Wang searches for 17th victory

Wang searches for 17th victory

The Yankees are left looking for explanations as to why they have cooled so drastically since shipping the Red Sox out of town with a three-game sweep. Perhaps there is something to the idea of an emotional letdown against the lackluster Devil Rays, who took two of three during a weekend stay in New York.

"We knew we weren't going to play .700 ball from the middle of July to the end of the season," said Yankees right-hander Mike Mussina. "You've got to be realistic. But we fought our way back, and we're leading the Wild Card now. You want to stay after it."

That does little to explain why the Yankees weren't able to get it in gear on a sleepy Labor Day afternoon, suffering a 7-1 defeat to the Seattle Mariners -- the team that very well may wind up standing in the way of the Yankees' postseason chances.

"You take what you get," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "You can't afford the luxury of saying, 'Oh my goodness, why did this happen?' You just have to go and win as many games as you can. It's that time of year. As far as the attitude of the ballclub, I feel comfortable with that. But it's still going to come down to being able to control the game with our pitching."

On Tuesday, the Yankees will look to Chien-Ming Wang, tied for first in the Major Leagues with 16 wins, to get the efforts back on track. He's been the right guy of late, coming off seven innings of shutout, one-hit ball against the Red Sox -- and few can forget Wang's last encounter with the Mariners in the Bronx, on May 5, when he retired the first 22 batters he faced before surrendering a solo home run to Ben Broussard in the eighth inning.

Such a performance, or at least something resembling it, would be a welcome change of pace for the Yankees. But Wang cannot do it alone; the Yankees' high-powered offense has gone through a valley of late, scoring just three runs over the last 18 innings coming into Tuesday evening's game. Maybe the lights will get the stage set.

"We've been too good for too long to concern ourselves with the fact that we've let a couple of games get away without scoring a lot of runs," Torre said. "The players are ready, and they're working hard. It's just a matter of time before we start doing it again."

The Mariners will counter with left-hander Horacio Ramirez, who will be making his 18th start of the season and his second against the Yankees. On May 13 at Seattle, Ramirez recorded a 2-1 victory, outdueling Andy Pettitte. Ramirez allowed one run on five hits at Safeco Field, walking one and striking out one.

Pitching matchup
NYY: RHP Chien-Ming Wang (16-6, 3.79 ERA)
Wang is 5-0 with a 2.78 ERA in five career starts against the Mariners, having held Seattle hitters to a .198 batting average in his career. He has won three consecutive starts, besting the Tigers twice and the Red Sox once.

SEA: LHP Horacio Ramirez (8-4, 6.55 ERA)
Ramirez was on the disabled list from May 25-July 16 with left shoulder tendinitis. In his career against the Yankees, Ramirez is 2-0 with a 0.63 ERA, having allowed one run in 14 1/3 innings.

Player to watch
Jorge Posada is 3-for-7 (.429) with a double in his career against Ramirez. Bobby Abreu, a fellow former National Leaguer, has seen Ramirez the most, going 6-for-24 (.250).

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• YES

On radio
• WCBS, 92.7 WQBU (Español)

Up next
• Wednesday: Mariners (Jarrod Washburn, 9-12, 4.37) at Yankees (Phil Hughes, 2-3, 5.65), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Off-day
• Friday: Yankees (Ian Kennedy, 1-0, 1.29) at Royals (Brandon Duckworth, 2-4, 3.79), 8:10 p.m. ET

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.