Yankees 8, Mariners 1
NEW YORK (AP)—Always unflappable, Chien-Ming Wang was nearly unhittable Saturday. Perfect, in fact, before one misplaced changeup.
Catcher Jorge Posada knew the changeup was in trouble from the start.
“As soon as he threw it,” Posada said, “I was just hoping the guy didn’t swing at it.”
Facing a Mariners team that got season highs of 15 runs and 20 hits the previous night, Wang (1-2) was in control the whole way. Seattle struggled to do anything with Wang’s heavy sinker, one of the best pitches in the majors.
One simple changeup did him in.
Wang said he left the ball “high.”
He got Richie Sexson to roll back to him for the first out of the eighth, but Broussard followed with a home run to right-center field.
“It’d feel better if we had won,” Broussard said. “But, definitely, I think everybody’s a competitor. Nobody wants to get no-hit. I think everybody was going up just trying to have a good at-bat, maybe see some pitches and see what happens.”
The Yankee Stadium crowd saluted Wang with a long, standing ovation. The right-hander from Taiwan stood behind the mound for a moment with his hat off, briefly clenched his jaw and wiped sweat from his brow. Posada went to the mound to talk to him.
Jose Guillen was up next, and he singled. Kenji Johjima then bounced into a double play to end the inning. Wang walked slowly to the dugout as some of his teammates ran past him, giving him a pat on the back on their way to the bench.
“You’re disappointed, naturally,” shortstop Derek Jeter said. “You’re disappointed for him because you don’t know when you’re going to get the opportunity again.”
Wang was trying for the 16th perfect game since 1900, including Don Larsen’s gem for the Yankees in the 1956 World Series.
The last two perfect games in the AL have occurred at Yankee Stadium, by New York’s David Cone (1999) and David Wells (1998). Larsen also pitched his at the ballpark.
Randy Johnson has the last perfect game in the majors, for Arizona at Atlanta on May 18, 2004.
Brian Bruney took over for Wang to begin the ninth and finished off the two-hitter.
On Tuesday night, Yankees rookie Phil Hughes took a no-hitter into the seventh inning at Texas, but was forced to leave because of a hamstring injury.
If Wang was at all fazed by the growing tension in the Bronx, he didn’t show it. After the seventh inning, he sat all by himself at the far end of the dugout with a white towel draped over his right shoulder.
“He’s really calm,” Posada said. “Nothing really fazes him. He’s our No. 1. We need him every five days.”
This was certainly an unlikely situation for a perfect game. Wang, who finished second in the AL Cy Young voting last year, went on the disabled list in spring training with a strained right hamstring and struggled in his first two starts of the season.
“First two starts, I felt not so strong,” Wang said.
Rodriguez also made a great play to retire Lopez for the final out of the sixth. He charged a slow roller up the line and made a strong throw to nip Lopez at first as the crowd roared.
“He threw the ball so well today,” Rodriguez said. “It was exciting. I don’t get to appreciate how well his ball moves from where I play. I’m just consumed with the thought that I’m going to be busy.”
Ichiro Suzuki hit a grounder off Wang’s left shin in the fourth but the right-hander threw him out at first. The trainer came out to check on him but Wang was fine.
Suzuki led off the seventh with a deep drive into the gap, but left fielder Hideki Matsui caught it on the run.
“He wasn’t leaving a whole lot over the middle of the plate,” said Willie Bloomquist, who went 0-for-3 against Wang. “It’s deceptive because when you’re up there it looks like it’s going to be down the heart of the plate but then that late movement kind of gets in on you, or jams you a little bit, or makes you hit it off the end.”
New York broke open the game in the sixth when Jeff Weaver (0-5) started struggling with his control. Weaver, a former Yankee, hit Matsui with a pitch with the bases loaded and also walked Melky Cabrera to force in another run.
Posada also had a run-scoring single and Jeter a two-run double in the five-run inning.
Weaver, who recorded just one out in his previous start, went 5 2-3 innings against the Yankees, allowing six runs and nine hits. He has given up 29 runs and 40 hits in 17 innings over five starts this season.
“He threw the ball well,” said Mariners manager Mike Hargrove, who added Weaver will take his next turn in the rotation. “If he throws like that the rest of the year we’re going to be all right.”
Rodriguez was hit on his left elbow by a pitch in the seventh inning. He said he hopes he’ll be able to play Sunday. … Yankees CF Johnny Damon didn’t play after his right calf cramped up during his last at-bat in Seattle’s 15-11 win Friday night. He is day to day. … Yankees RHP Darrell Rasner was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and RHP Colter Bean was sent down. Rasner will start against the Mariners on Sunday. … Mariners 3B Adrian Beltre and DH Jose Vidro got the day off.