Chien-Ming Wang had the longest winning streak of his career snapped in his last start, although it wasn’t entirely his fault. He hopes to get back in the win column when his New York Yankees take baseball’s hottest offense into the second game of a four-game series against the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday.
Wang (10-5, 3.44 ERA) had won seven straight decisions in a span of nine starts before suffering a 3-2 defeat to Toronto on Thursday. He held the Blue Jays to three runs in 7 1-3 innings, but the Yankees (52-46) managed only two runs and five hits - their lowest totals in 13 games since the All-Star break.
“Another great effort (by Wang),” Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon told the team’s official Web site. “He deserved to have won this game.”
“It’s unfortunate we couldn’t take advantage of that great pitching.”
Since that loss, New York is batting .388 and averaging 11.6 runs per game. After a 9-2 win in the series opener against the Royals on Monday, the Yankees have outscored opponents 54-14 during a four-game winning streak.
They remain 7 1/2 games behind of AL East-leading Boston - which has also won four straight - and have pulled within 5 1/2 games of the wild-card lead.
“We’d still like to make some noise in our division, get a little closer to where we want to be,” manager Joe Torre said. “You know when I start talking about wild cards I get chewed out.”
New York hopes to continue its offensive surge for Wang, who is 31-2 in his career - 10-0 this year - when he receives at least four runs of support. The right-hander is 1-0 with a 5.79 ERA in three career starts against the Royals, and the Yankees have won all of those games.
The Royals (43-55) have lost two of three games, but have been surprisingly solid against tough competition lately. Entering this series, they went 5-4 on a nine-game road trip against Cleveland, Boston and Detroit - the teams with the three best records in the AL.
Kansas City has won four of its last five series against teams that currently have winning records. Monday’s loss, however, was the Royals’ 11th in 13 games against the Yankees since August 2005.
Scott Elarton (2-3, 9.17) will make his first start in more than a month for Kansas City. After giving up five runs in 2 2-3 innings of a 5-1 loss at St. Louis on June 19, the right-hander went on the disabled list with a right foot strain. He was 1-1 with a 7.43 ERA in five appearances with Triple-A Omaha.
Elarton, though, has had good fortune in four career starts against the Yankees, going 3-0 despite a 4.85 ERA.
“I am actually kind of excited that I am pitching against the Yankees, because I have had success against them before,” Elarton told the Royals’ official Web site. “If I am going to come back to a challenge, it might as well be a big challenge. I am just going to go out there and just go to battle with them.”
New York third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who went 1-for-3 with an RBI on Monday, is 9-for-16 (.563) with three home runs in his career against Elarton.