Shields sharp, but bats silenced
Rays hitters manage just four hits against Yanks' Wang
NEW YORK -- The game-time temperature was 46 degrees, but Yankee Stadium felt like Ice Station Zebra by the time the first pitch was thrown on Sunday afternoon as the Yankees took a 2-0 win in front of a crowd of 51,279.
James Shields and Chien-Ming Wang started for the Rays and Yankees, respectively, and used their nasty stuff to make the cold even more unbearable for the hitters.
Three scoreless frames passed before Hideki Matsui broke the ice with a two-run homer off Shields in the fourth, giving the Yankees all the runs they would need.
"I thought my rhythm today was where it needed to be," said Shields, who said he felt better than he did when he got the win against the Orioles on Opening Day. "I made one bad pitch -- hung my changeup to Matsui."
Shields showed some emotion on the mound while Matsui rounded the bases.
"I knew today was a day where I needed to shut them down," Shields said. "It was cold. You've got to keep them in the game. Wang pitched great today. I knew I had to keep them in the ballgame. So, obviously, that was the winning decision right there, that pitch, so I'm going to be a little animated because I knew I had to shut them out."
Wang appeared flawless, holding the Rays hitless for 4 1/3 innings.
"He had good stuff," Jason Bartlett said. "I always thought he was just a sinker baller. But he had a little cutter, slider, he mixed it in and out. So he did a good job. ... He had good stuff today, so hats off to him."
Added Shawn Riggans: "Wang is their No. 1 guy over there for a reason. He threw the ball excellent."
Willy Aybar finally ended Wang's spell when he laced a single into right field with one out in the fifth. After an error by Robinson Cano at second on a fielder's choice, the Rays had runners at first and third, but Bartlett could not put down the bunt on what appeared to be a failed suicide-squeeze attempt. Yankees catcher Jorge Posada took the pitch and alertly ran down the third-base line to tag out Aybar
"It was a safety squeeze, I was supposed to get it down, and he was supposed to read it," Bartlett said. "But I bunted through it, and neither one of us did our jobs."
Wang finished snuffing the threat by striking out Bartlett for the third out.
The Rays mounted one last threat in the seventh when Cliff Floyd and Eric Hinske each singled to start the inning, putting runners at first and third and chasing Wang. But Tampa Bay didn't find the going any easier after Wang left.
Joba Chamberlain entered the game and immediately struck out Aybar. Riggans then stepped into the batter's box and swung late at the first fastball delivered by the hard-throwing right-hander.
"The first one caught me a little off-guard, 101 mph," Riggans said. "You don't see that every day. He's got a great arm. He's got electric stuff. He threw a real good slider to Willy the at-bat before me. I had that in the back of my mind."
Riggans kept his cool and managed to catch up to a fastball later in the at-bat, lashing a line drive to the opposite field, but Cano speared the ball then whipped a quick throw over to first to double off Hinske and end the threat.
"It was great," Chamberlain said. "[Riggans] put a good swing on it. He didn't get all of it, and Robbie took a couple of great steps. He knew where the bag was at and he turned and threw it, and Wilson [Betemit] made a great play."
Chamberlain retired the side in order in the eighth before Mariano Rivera struck out two of the three hitters he faced in the ninth to preserve the victory and earn his third save of the season.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.