- Obama’s regulatory agenda will cost U.S. economy $143B next year: report
- Patriot Act author on James Clapper: Fire, prosecute him
- Russia P.M. Medvedev: No amnesty for political prisoners
- Michigan GOP Senate hopeful reminds government is the ‘servant’
- Christmas, by Congress: Members mull a 15-cent tax on trees
- U.S. unemployment falls to five-year low of 7 percent; 203K jobs added
- World mourns Nelson Mandela and celebrates his life; burial set for Dec. 15
- Bill O’Reilly reminds: Nelson Mandela ‘was a communist’
- John Boehner says GOP should support gay candidates: ‘I do’
- Grass-Whopper: Pan-fried cricket burgers go over big in New York City
Chien-Ming Wang’s biting sinker returns as the Nationals top the Cubs 3-1
Wang pitches six scoreless innings, allows one hit
Question of the Day
CHICAGO — Throughout Chien-Ming Wang's career in the major leagues, through his moments of triumph and his downfalls, his identity has been the same. He's a sinkerballer. He'd live by it, and die by it. When was winning 19 games for the New York Yankees or finishing second in the American League Cy Young voting, he threw his sinker no less than 75 percent of the time.
He worked for two years in the Florida heat to regain his ability to throw it. Yet, the first two times he took a major league mound this year, he didn't rely on it.
Tuesday night, with the wind blowing out at Wrigley Field in a 3-1 Washington Nationals' victory, Wang had his pitches sinking from warmups until his final pitch. Of his 81 pitches, he threw it 66 times. Until the sixth inning, not a single Cub could hit it. Tony Campana finally did with an infield single, but Wang's six scoreless innings — with 12 ground-ball outs — represented a giant step forward for the right-hander.
"It's light years," said Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty. "This is what he is. I knew he threw a lot of sinkers. I wasn't sure how many, but we talked about it and I said, 'Go on and throw it.'"
McCatty was so sure that Wang wasn't being true to himself, throwing his sinker only 63 percent of the time in his first two starts, that he sought the advice of Wang's former teammate Jason Giambi this past weekend when the Nationals were in Colorado. He didn't ask him about the sinker, but discussed the slider, which which Wang had been turning to more often than ever before.
"I think it was a little fuzzy," Giambi said. "But I didn't see it too much because [Jorge Posada] kept putting one down."
Wang heeded McCatty's advice, taking comfort in the strength of a pitch his confidence had been wavering in. Against the Cubs, he threw it with more conviction and stayed on top of the ball more than he had in his first two starts. Nearly 100 Taiwanese fans packed into Wrigley Field and chanted his name.
"I expected the progress to be better this time," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "And it was very impressive out there. Eighty pitches for six innings? That's vintage pitching."
"This is exactly what I expected," said shortstop Ian Desmond, who made one of a host of fine defensive plays behind Wang. "He's a professional. It's not like it's his first performance. ... You can tell that he gets a little frustrated with himself at times but he never shows it to somebody who doesn't know him. He's always under control. He knows what his game is and I think he wants to get back to where he wants it."
It was the first scoreless outing for Wang since June 15, 2008 and the first in which he pitched at least six innings since June 10 of that year. It was what the Nationals hoped for when they signed him for $2 million as a rehab project 19 months ago — and then when they added another year for $1 million this past December. He established his sinker and did not deviate, throwing just 12 sliders and three splitters. His fastball hovered between 90-92 mph, touching 94 once.
"It almost feels the same," Wang said through translator John Hsu. "I just wanted to get the ball down. I didn't think that much."
Following two sixth-inning home runs — a monster blast by Michael Morse and a two-run shot by Jonny Gomes — Wang faced the pinch-hitting Campana to lead off the bottom half of the inning.
On the seventh pitch of the at bat, in a 2-2 count, the right-hander unleashed a 90 mph sinker inside to the left-handed hitter. The Cubs' speedy outfielder turned on the pitch and sent it rocketing toward Morse at first base.
Morse reached out, sprawled to his right and got a glove on it, but the ball moved away. As Campana raced down the first-base line, Danny Espinosa snagged the ball just as it passed onto the outfield grass. He turned and threw toward a Wang, who was covering first base, but Campana was too fast.
Wang hung his head: a momentary disappointment, a chance at greatness lost. But it was the only one on an otherwise successful night.
"I really appreciate all the teammates in helping me tonight with good defense," Wang said. "They played well and for me it means a lot because it's been two years. It's not a short time."
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals and comes to The Washington Times from the Cape Cod Times and after stints with MLB.com and the Amsterdam (N.Y.) Recorder. A Massachusetts native and 2008 graduate of Boston University, Amanda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow her on Twitter @acomak.
- What will Nationals do this offseason to contend again in 2014?
- As Nationals' manager search begins, Randy Knorr the players' choice
- Davey Johnson's big-league journey ends with Nationals loss
- Team spirit and Holy Spirit — for Nationals religion looms large on and off the field
- Jordan Zimmermann falls short of 20th win as Cardinals prevail again
Latest Blog Entries
- A fond farewell, and a bit of thanks
- Nationals coaches wait in limbo as team searches for next manager
- Davey Johnson won't be in uniform for Nationals in spring training
- Tanner Roark starts season finale with youthful lineup behind him (UPDATED)
- Dan Haren, Nationals top Diamondbacks in season's penultimate game
- Spike in battlefield deaths linked to restrictive rules of engagement
- Activists urge Obama to go rogue, sidestep Congress
- Colorado judge: Bakery owner discriminated against gay couple
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- PRUDEN: British press horrified as London's new mayor dares to proclaim the truth
- Rush Limbaugh: Obama trying to make Mandela death about himself
- Obamas call to close Vatican embassy is 'slap in the face' to Roman Catholics
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality
- NAPOLITANO: Pope Francis should be saving souls, not pocketbooks
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Interviews and show reviews from the Los Angeles punk scene past and present. Los Angeles has always been rich in punk rock talent since punk rock was born.
Inside the sport of hockey from a scout’s perspective
Classical music and the performing arts: news and reviews you can use.
For moms, dads, kids, tech heads, travelers, kitchen mavens and everyone else on your holiday gift list
White House pets gone wild!