No one is going to mistake Chien-Ming Wang's five innings on Wednesday night for the stuff that dreams are made of, but it was a solid enough performance to justify keeping him the rotation. It tells you how far the bar has been lowered for the former 19-game winner when five innings of three-run baseball is considered reason for excitement. Do his teammates share that feeling, though?
They helped turn his final inning into a two-run Nationals rally that figured heavily into the loss. Jorge Posada and Ramiro Pena teamed up on a low throw-no catch on a steal attempt by Willie Harris which would have been the second out of the inning. Instead there were two runners on when Nick Johnson sent one into the gap two hitters later, which Melky Cabrera turned into a two-run triple with an ill-advised dive. He wasn't going to make the catch, but he could have limited the bleeding by cutting the ball off.
Now there was a blown call by the first base umpire in the middle of that which made the inning much worse, but Wang can't overcome those kinds of extra chances at this point in time. Certainly not in the fifth inning when his pitches have already lost their bite and sink. He can't get himself out of innings, so the slightest mistake by the defense is going to come back to haunt him and the Yankees.
Not that it mattered much based on the offensive effort. Going back to Saturday's game against Fernando Nieve of the Mets, the Yankees bats have now disappeared in three of the last four games. John Lannan's name isn't particularly well-known thanks to the misery his teammates spew forth on a regular basis, but he's a good pitcher. Not so good that a lineup like the Yankees' should be limited to four hits and two solo home runs, though.
If a pitcher as screwed up as Wang gives you five innings of three-run baseball, the offense has to step up and find a way to do the rest. The lineup has been in a funk for the last week. They've scored runs, but they haven't been hitting in big spots. Those are the kinds of hits that extend innings, blow open games and chase starting pitchers. That can change overnight, and it would be in the Yankees' best interests if it did.