Taiwanese pitcher Wang Chien-ming (王建民) allowed four hits and no earned runs in pitching 6.1 innings to help the red hot Toronto Blue Jays win 4-2 against the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday, earning their 10th consecutive victory.
Less than two weeks ago, the Blue Jays were desperate for pitching help and decided to give the former 19-win ace a chance to prove that he could still pitch in the major leagues.
Toronto manager John Gibbons knew Wang could help the beaten-up Jays pitching staff, but what Wang has done so far has exceeded Gibbons’ expectations.
Coming off his first MLB win since June 12 last year against the Texas Rangers, Wang built on his superb second start with the Blue Jays to quiet the Orioles’ hot bats and helped Toronto move above .500 for the first time since July 29 and extend their winning streak to 10 games, tying the second-best run in team history.
The Orioles were ranked second in batting average and runs scored in the American League and had the most home runs in the MLB prior to Saturday’s game.
Wang was able to keep the Orioles scoreless until the fifth inning, when Chris Davis reached first base on a grounder to second baseman Emilio Bonifacio, who fumbled the ball.
Davis went on to score the first run for Baltimore, but the league changed Baltimore’s first run into an error for Bonifacio in a corrected scoring decision later.
The Taiwanese pitcher had a 2-1 lead in the seventh, but Gibbons opted to call Aaron Loup from the bullpen to face the dangerous lefty Davis. Loup promptly hit the batter, but a double-play ball orchestrated by Neil Wagner in relief ended that threat.
A Taiwanese reporter asked Gibbons for his reasons for removing Wang after only 83 pitches.
“We’re looking at a 2-1 game, we don’t have many hits. At that time, we’re eight outs away against a good-hitting ball club and Davis is probably the MVP in the league right now. He can change a game in a hurry. We wanted to give him a different look with a left-hander,” Gibbons was quoted as replying by the Toronto Star.
“How much did Wang have left? He was still pretty strong, but we’re looking for outs there. It was a no-brainer to me, and that’s no insult to Chien-Ming Wang,” he said.
Wang left to a standing ovation after giving up zero earned runs in 6.1 innings.
The right-hander, who walked none and struck out two, relied mostly on his commanding sinker and threw 51 of his 83 pitches for strikes in his no-decision effort.
“That’s three really good ones,” Gibbons said of Wang’s performances in his first three starts with Toronto.
“He shut down a good hitting team. I know he feels good, he’s a part of it now. He’s given us a big boost, that’s for sure,” Gibbons added, assuring Taiwanese media that Wang is now a reliable piece in the starting rotation.
More than 250 Taiwanese fans in the Toronto area traveled to the Rogers Centre to cheer on Wang, who thanked them for their support.