The New York Yankees are still deciding what kind of future Chien-Ming Wang(notes) has with them. Tommy Hanson(notes), on the other hand, has shown the Atlanta Braves that he should be a big part of their future.
Two right-handers who may be headed on different career paths meet Tuesday night as the Yankees visit Atlanta for the first time in nine years in the opener of a three-game series.
Wang (0-5, 12.30 ERA) earned another start for New York (38-31) despite losing 3-2 to Washington on Wednesday. He allowed three runs over five innings after failing to last past the fourth inning in four of his first five starts.
The Yankees want to see Wang resemble the pitcher who won 19 games in 2006 and 2007. They’d also certainly like to see him duplicate his effort in his only start against the Braves (33-36) on June 28, 2006 when he yielded two runs over eight innings in a 4-3, 12-inning victory.
“I feel good about his start on Tuesday,” manager Joe Girardi told the Yankees’ official Web site. “You don’t necessarily want to see a sinkerballer get too many days off, but I feel good about his start.”
Tuesday will mark the seventh straight game New York will see a pitcher it has never faced in Hanson (2-0, 4.08), a promising rookie making his fourth career start. Hanson has gotten better with each outing and allowed three hits and four walks in six innings Thursday in a 7-0 win at Cincinnati.
“That was the best start Hanson had,” Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said. “He got himself in trouble, but he pitched out of it. He threw a lot of pitches early. I didn’t think he was going to make it to the fifth inning, but he settled down and got a lot of first-pitch outs.”
The 22-year-old Hanson is a 22nd-round selection in 2005 whom the Braves refused to deal to San Diego for Jake Peavy(notes). He posted a 1.49 ERA and struck out 90 in 66 1-3 innings with Triple-A Gwinnett.
This will also be the first game in Atlanta for Yankees slugger Mark Teixeira(notes) since he was traded by the Braves to the Los Angeles Angels on July 29. Teixeira spent parts of two seasons with Atlanta, where he also played college baseball at Georgia Tech.
Teixeira was among the hottest hitters in baseball not too long ago, batting .408 (42 for 103) with 12 homers and 35 RBIs from May 13-June 10 to raise his average from .191 to .296 as New York went 19-7 in that span. He has cooled off since then, going 9 for 39 (.231) with one homer and four RBIs in his last 10 games - including six losses by the Yankees.
New York is 10-9 all-time against Atlanta in the regular season, including 4-1 at Turner Field - where the Yankees took two of three June 2-4, 2000. The Braves lost to the Yankees in the 1996 and 1999 World Series.
Atlanta opened a 10-game homestand with a 2-0 win Monday over the Chicago Cubs in a makeup game. The Braves also host the last two World Series champions - Boston and Philadelphia - in this stretch.