Wang Chien-ming (
The 26-year-old Wang took the lead for most wins this season with his 20th "W," one better than Minnesota Twins staff ace Johan Santana, who lost the other divisional-series opener to the Oakland A's in Minnesota in a 3-2 decision to drop to 19-7 for the year.
Wang rewarded New York skipper Joe Torre's decision to start the sophomore right-hander in place of future Hall-of-Famers Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina by minimizing the damage done by the Detroit lineup on a day that his renowned sinkerball did not have the kind of movement which it had over the course of the season.
Even though six of the eight hits that Wang gave up went for extra bases, including five doubles and a solo home run to Craig Monroe in the top of the fifth, the Tainan native never lost his grasp of the game as he calmly recorded four strikeouts and induced a crucial inning ending double play in the third with tremendous poise to keep the Tigers to three fifth-inning runs over the 6-2/3 innings he pitched.
Wang also kept up his exceptional groundout-to-flyout ratio with a 10-4 split that made things much easier on the Yankees defense before the New York bullpen took over and closed out the game with 2-1/3 innings of one-run relief to secure the victory for Wang.
Offensively for the Yankees, with a lineup that has no weak spots throughout the order, a scoreless tie through the top of the third quickly turned into a 5-0 Yankees lead when the first six hitters in the inning all collected base hits off Tigers starter Nate Robertson for five runs to give Wang plenty of support, highlighted by latecomer Bobby Abreu's two-run double and Jason Giambi's two-run blast over the right field wall.
Yankees captain Derek Jeter also had his best hitting performance in a postseason game for quite some time by going 5-for-5 with a solo homer in the eighth to cap it off.
Leading 1-0 in the best-of-five series, the Yankees were scheduled to send 15-game-winner Mussina to the hill to take on Tigers rookie sensation Justin Verlander in Game 2 of the series last night.