Wang looks to return to form in Atlanta

Wang looks to return to form in Atlanta

MIAMI -- Prior to Chien-Ming Wang's last start, Yankees manager Joe Girardi addressed the right-hander with an ultimatum: If he did not pitch well, he would lose his spot in the rotation.

Wang hardly pitched brilliantly, but he did throw effectively enough for the Yankees to abandon plans of finding a new job for their former 19-game winner. And so when Wang takes the mound again on Tuesday, he will do so without the pressure of any similar ultimatum.

"I don't really have a term for this start," Girardi said, "except that I'm anxious to see him pitching again -- to build off what he did the last time."

Despite a tough-luck loss to the Nationals, Wang's start last Wednesday was far and away his best of the season. He allowed three earned runs in five innings, striking out four and walking two. And he boasted a sharp sinker, akin to those he routinely threw during his days as one of the American League's most successful starters.

Wang spent time on the disabled list and in the bullpen this year recovering from weakness in the adductor muscles of both hips, before rejoining the Yankee rotation earlier this month. His most recent start came only one day after his wife, Chia-Ling Wu, gave birth to the couple's first child -- an event that Girardi believes relieved pressure from the 29-year-old starter.

Now, without those worries and without the pressure of pitching for his job, Girardi believes that his former ace can flourish in Atlanta. Due to an off-day Monday, Wang will be starting on an extra day of rest.

"I feel good about his start on Tuesday," Girardi said. "You don't necessarily want to see a sinkerballer get too many days off, but I feel good about his start."

Yet Wang's assignment won't be easy. He'll be facing a Braves team that, even including a shutout in Boston last Saturday, has scored 20 runs over its last four games -- and that's without major trade acquisition Nate McLouth having hit his stride.

But perhaps more worrisome for the Yankees is Wang's counterpart. Heralded rookie Tommy Hanson will be making just the fourth start of his big league career -- and he won two of the first three, hurling six shutout innings his last time out. So ineffective last week against starters they hadn't previously seen, the Yankees will need to figure out a way to solve Hanson.

In 19 regular-season games against the Braves since Interleague Play began in 1997, the Yankees have produced a 10-9 record. Including two wins in the 1999 World Series, they are 6-1 all-time at Turner Field.

Pitching matchup
NYY: RHP Chien-Ming Wang (0-5, 12.30 ERA)
After pitching well enough against the Nationals to earn another start, Wang will have another chance to prove himself. The right-hander has faced the Braves once before, in 2006, allowing two runs on eight hits in an eight-inning no-decision at Yankee Stadium.

ATL: RHP Tommy Hanson (2-0, 4.08 ERA)
Inconsistent command has been an issue, as Hanson has allowed nine walks during the 11 2/3 innings he's completed, proving victorious in his past two starts. Armed with a plus-fastball and a plus-slider, the highly regarded prospect has shown the ability to pitch out of jams and make quick adjustments. After using two strikeouts to escape a bases-loaded jam with one out during Thursday's second inning against the Reds, Hanson threw 25 of his next 37 pitches for strikes and ended the six-inning effort without allowing a run.

Through three games in National League parks, Yankees pitchers are 2-for-7 at the plate with one RBI and one run scored. ... Braves hitters Casey Kotchman and Garret Anderson, two former Angels, are a combined 5-for-9 lifetime off Wang. ... The Yankees will face two pitchers in this series -- Hanson and Kenshin Kawakami -- that they have never seen.

 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• MY9

On radio
• WCBS 880, 92.7 WQBU (Español)

Up next
• Wednesday: Yankees (Joba Chamberlain, 3-2, 3.89) at Braves (Kenshin Kawakami, 4-6, 4.42), 7:00 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Yankees (Andy Pettitte, 7-3, 4.26) at Braves (Derek Lowe, 7-5, 4.09), 7:00 p.m. ET
• Friday: Yankees (CC Sabathia, 6-4, 3.71) at Mets (TBD), 7:10 p.m. ET

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.