Things didn't look particularly good for the Yankees in the early innings at the Stadium on Thursday. Chien-Ming Wang wasn't very good, digging his team a 5-1 hole, and when the boobirds came out early after Alex Rodriguez grounded out with a runner on second and no one out in the fourth it felt like a carbon copy of Wednesday's loss. Patience won out, though, as the bats arrived in the fifth and Melky Cabrera provided a little more late game magic to create an 8-6 win.
Cabrera's resurgence, whether or not it is caused by better off-field habits, has been one of the more lightly reported pleasant stories of the season's first two months. He was sent to the minors last season and benched in favor of Brett Gardner in Florida, which makes his role as the spark of several late game wins a surprising development indeed. Today's contribution was a two-run homer in the eighth inning, giving him six on the season and giving the Yankees a solid answer to their biggest lineup mystery entering the season.
The mystery that is Wang continues unabated, however. He wasn't as bad as he was in April on Thursday, but he wasn't good enough. He looked sharp early, three strikeouts in the first two innings, but faded quickly. Balls were up in the zone, he stopped getting swings and misses and the Rangers started pounding the ball around the park.
Fatigue after such a long layoff from starting is understandable, but Wang's next scheduled start is Tuesday against the Red Sox. Can the Yankees really risk that he'll be able to keep the ball down at Fenway Park? He didn't pitch poorly enough to demand his ouster and he needs to start if they want to build him up going forward, but you have to wonder if his confidence could handle getting mashed by the Sox in a big series. The start after that is the Mets, which means the pressure will remain high for a guy trying to work himself back into shape.