The Yankees right-hander makes his first start since a foot injury ended his season in June when New York continues its three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night.
New York’s starting pitching contributed greatly to the team missing the playoffs for the first time since 1993 last year. Highly touted youngsters Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes failed to win a game before succumbing to injury, and fellow starter Joba Chamberlain was lost for a month due to shoulder problems. Veteran Andy Pettitte also struggled in the second half of the season.
The biggest hit to the Yankees’ rotation, though, came June 15, when Wang partially tore a tendon and sprained his right foot while running the bases against Houston, ending his season.
Wang was 8-2 with a 4.07 ERA and the Yankees had gone 12-3 with him on the mound before he was hurt. He won 19 games in each of the previous two seasons.
“That’s a lot of games from a starter,” manager Joe Girardi told the Yankees’ official Web site. “He was one of the inning guys as well and we didn’t have that. He was a big loss last year.”
Girardi’s Yankees could use a solid outing from one of the team’s most dependable pitchers after a rough debut for CC Sabathia in a 10-5 loss to the Orioles on Monday. Sabathia lasted only 4 1-3 innings and gave up six runs and eight hits with five walks and two wild pitches.
He wasn’t the only new Yankee to struggle. Mark Teixeira went 0-for-4 with a walk and stranded five runners, including two in the eighth after New York had cut a five-run deficit to 6-5.
“I didn’t get it done out there,” Teixeira said.
Getting off to slow starts isn’t unusual for the Yankees, who fell to 46-54 during the first month of the season since the start of 2005 - fourth-worst in the AL during that stretch. They haven’t opened with back-to-back losses, however, since dropping their first three games of 1998.
“I guess we can’t go undefeated,” Girardi said. “Yeah, it’s one game. We didn’t execute today.”
Derek Jeter did manage to get off to a fast start, going 3-for-5 as he took over the leadoff spot.
Wang is 3-1 with a 5.13 ERA in eight starts and one relief appearance versus the Orioles, with New York going 6-2 in the starts.
While the Yankees’ new players struggled in their debuts, Baltimore’s recent addition made an immediate impact. Cesar Izturis, signed as a free agent after he left St. Louis, hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning after the Yankees had cut the deficit to one.
“The guys that were supposed to step up and do it, did,” manager Dave Trembley said.
Trembley will hand the ball Wednesday to Koji Uehara, who will be making his major league debut. The right-hander signed a $10 million, two-year contract with Baltimore in January after spending the previous 10 years with the Yomiuri Giants of the Japanese Central League.
Uehara went 2-1 with a 3.68 ERA in spring training, pitching 14 2-3 innings over five starts. He was bothered by a strained left hamstring that limited him in March.
Uehara was excited about facing Yankees designated hitter Hideki Matsui, who also played for the Yomiuri Giants.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” he said via a translator. “As you can see, the Japanese media is here to watch me and Mr. Matsui face each other. There’s huge attention to that. When it’s only me pitching on (another) day, these guys won’t be here.”
The Orioles have won their opening series with the Yankees the last two seasons.