Chase Wright was a part of baseball history at Fenway Park on April 22, although not in a way he’d have preferred. Making the second appearance of his big league career, the Yankees lefthander gave up home runs to four consecutive Red Sox batters in the third inning. Paul Foytack, with the Los Angeles Angels in 1963, is the only other pitcher in history to allow four straight in an inning.
A third-round pick out of high school in 2001, the 24-year-old native of Iowa Park, Texas spent last season in high Class A Tampa, going 12-3, 1.88. He made two starts at Double-A Trenton this season, pitching 14 scoreless innings and allowing only four hits and one walk with 19 strikeouts. Called up to help an injury-depleted Yankees rotation, he won his first start in a Yankees uniform, allowing three runs in five innings against Cleveland. Wright was returned to Trenton after making his historic start in Boston.
Baseball America: You were a part of history a few days ago. What are your thoughts on what happened at Fenway Park?
Chase Wright: You know, I just take it as a positive. I’ve had worse struggles in the minors, like giving up eight runs in two innings. This was four runs in three innings; they just happened to be on home runs. After the game, the thing I kept hearing is that it hadn’t happened since 1963, so now I’m in the record books. Not that I enjoyed it, but I guess it’s kind of neat, in a way.
BA: Take us through the inning and the four home runs.
CW: I got the first two outs and then left a ball up in the zone to Manny Ramirez, and he’s a guy who will make you pay for a mistake. The next one, the home run by J.D. Drew, is the one that really bothered me. I had him set up, much like I did in the first inning, and had I left the ball down I think I would have had him. But I left it up, and he took advantage. That was the turning point of the inning.
BA: Did the game start to speed up on you at that point?
CW: I’m not sure. Obviously, Fenway was going nuts, but when I’m on the mound I usually stay pretty calm and positive. Once something is over, I forget about it. For instance, after Mike Lowell homered I started thinking about Jason Varitek. My mind goes right to how I want to work the next hitter.
BA: Which of the pitches that were hit out were obvious mistakes, and which were decent pitches where you have to just tip your cap to the hitter?
CW: Ramirez hit a fastball away, Drew a hanging breaking ball, Lowell a changeup, and Varitek a fastball. So they pretty much hit my whole arsenal out. And I tip my cap to all of them. Even if you don’t make the pitch you want, they still have to make good contact. The pitch to Lowell was down, but we knew from the reports that that was his hot spot.
BA: What can you tell us about the game plan you went in with?
CW: We went over reports, so I had a good idea of where to stay away from on hitters. I just made mistakes. In general, we tried to keep it simple. We wanted to get ahead in the count, which I didn’t do, and we wanted to work to my strengths and keep the ball down in the zone.
BA: You only gave up one home run last year in 120 innings. Are you normally pretty hard to take deep?
CW: Yeah, I think so. I usually work down with two-seamers, so I haven’t given up too many. When I got Julio Lugo earlier in the game with two on and two out, I threw a good fastball down in the zone. But later, maybe I got a bit too amped and my arm started leaking out. My front side started rushing, causing my arm to drag and my ball to flatten out.
BA: How did the game differ from your big league debut? Not the result, but how you felt on the mound?
CW: I felt a whole lot better–more comfortable–in the second game. I had a lot of butterflies my first time out, especially early. Of course, I have them before any start, regardless of where I’m pitching. But my arm felt great. I felt like I had a good grip; a good grasp of everything.
BA: (Catcher) Wil Nieves and (pitching coach) Ron Guidry came out to the mound after you gave up the third home run. What did they say to you?
CW: It was pretty much them making sure that I was breathing. Beyond that, they told me to believe in my stuff and to go after hitters. I didn’t really say much of anything, myself. On mound visits I’m mostly listening and taking in what they have to tell me.
BA: After giving up the home runs you struck out Wily Mo Pena to end the inning. Were you disappointed not to come out for the fourth?
CW: I went into the locker room between innings prepared to come out, but Gator (Ron Guidry) came up and told me that was it. I wasn’t disappointed. I mean, I was disappointed in myself, but this was the Yankees and Red Sox, and it was a 4-3 game, so it was understandable. We have a good bullpen, and I was fine about leaving it up to them.
BA: Who did you talk to after the game?
CW: Gator a little. I know Sean Henn pretty well, so I talked to him and a few of the other guys. They were mostly saying things like “Keep your head up” and “You’ll be fine.”
BA: What about later, after you left the clubhouse?
CW: I had my girlfriend in town, so she was one. And I talked to my dad and brother–the usual people I talk to after I pitch. They were all positive, telling me they were still proud of me. Things like that.
BA: How different will it feel on the mound in Trenton after pitching at Yankee Stadium and in Fenway Park?
CW: Well, I don’t think it will be nearly as loud as it was in New York and Boston! But that’s pretty much it. It’s still baseball–it’s still 60 feet, six inches. I won’t treat it any differently. I knew when I got called up that it would be for one, two, or maybe three starts. Maybe had I pitched two complete-game shutouts it would have been otherwise, but that was about it. I’ll just go out there and pitch my game.
BA: What has the highlight of your career been thus far?
CW: Getting drafted was big, but getting a win in my first big league game was bigger. Regardless of what happens from here, no one can ever take that away from me. But I want to get back to the big leagues.