Though he pitched into the eighth inning in his 2013 debut for the Toronto Blue Jays, the main knock against Chien-Ming Wang was that he just couldn’t avoid that one bad inning, ultimately giving up five runs on 10 hits and trio of walks.
So when his second start came around, he did.
Called upon to deliver the Blue Jays to an somewhat unexpected four-game sweep of the AL West juggernaut Texas Rangers, the Taiwanese hurler was simply his vintage, complete self, throwing seven innings of shutout ball while giving up seven hits and a pair of walks.
The only thing that he could have done better was to finish off the final two frames, and the way he was going, it was almost a surprise that he wasn’t given the opportunity.
Now, it wasn’t so much that Wang was un-hittable or anything; he had to work with at least one baserunner in all but one of his seven innings pitched, but the dominance he showed was in the way that he made adjustments and how he got out of trouble, instead of letting it build and bite him in the back.
He got some of the outs when he needed with an uncharacteristically-high five strikeouts on the day, but more impressive than his whiff-inducing ability is the fact that his sinker was working marvelously, as the right-hander coaxed a whopping 12 groundouts to a pair of flyouts with a fantastic 72.7 percent ground ball rate.
Sure, you might point to the flawless 100 percent strand rate was lucky, but all things considering, Wang did exactly what he needed to strand those runners. And while it was probably more work than the Blue Jays infielders were used to on a regular basis, the ground ball strategy paid off with the team playing solid defense on a whole lot of balls being put into play.
That said, is Wang high-contact game going to end up being conducive to sustained success? That’s hard to say for now, although it’s a certainty that Jose Reyes‘ return to shortstop will help significantly.
For Sunday, though, that sinker was as sure a ticket to victory as the Blue Jays have seen for some time.