In his second start of the 2012 season, which also happened to be his second start since 2010, expectations for Andy Pettitte had to be realistically tempered. After last night’s performance, it is clear that the New York Yankees made a great decision to bring Pettitte back to the Bronx for a third tour of duty.
In a masterful eight shutout-innings, Pettitte allowed only four hits and one walk while striking out nine Cincinnati Reds in a 4-0 victory. The Reds looked overmatched throughout the contest and Pettitte was fantastic right through his 115th and final pitch. The only question was would the Yankees provide enough support on offense.
Early on, it seemed that Pettitte was going to need to be just about perfect as the Yankees continued to have problems with runners in scoring position. Reds starter Bronson Arroyo was equally effective through seven innings allowing only one run to the Yanks on an Alex Rodriguez groundout.
Pettitte was in only one jam the entire night and happened right out of the gate. Zack Cozart struck out to lead off the game, but Yankees catcher Chris Stewart allowed the ball to get by him and then made a throwing error to first. Cozart made it all the way to second. Drew Stubbs laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Cozart to third, but Pettitte struck out Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips to end the threat. Pettitte would not allow a runner to second base the rest of the night.
It was a good thing too because the Yankees continued to squander run scoring opportunities. Their biggest came in the sixth inning. Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson hit back-to-back singles to open the inning and Robinson Cano drew a walk to load the bases with zero outs.
This seemed like an perfect time for the Yankees to erase the memories of the previous five days of poor run production with RISP. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. Rodriguez bounced into a force play; third base to home and Raul Ibanez had the same outcome only time the force was first base to home. Nick Swisher came up and delivered a measly pop out to shortstop to end the inning.
In the bottom of the eighth the Yankees finally got to Arroyo. After Jeter and Granderson each grounded out, Cano hit a monster home run into the right field bleachers. None of the outfielders moved after the ball was hit. The extra run was great for some breathing room, yet there was more to come. Rodriguez singled and Ibanez added a homer of his own to give the Yankees a 4-0 lead.
In the non-save situation, manager Joe Girardi went to Boone Logan to finish the game with the heart of the order coming up, and he did so in 1-2-3 fashion.
- The victory was Pettitte’s first since July 8, 2010.
- It was the longest Pettitte went in a game without allowing a run since July 8, 2008.
- Despite the four runs scored, none of them erased the RISP drought, as the Bombers are now 3-for-48 in their last six games.
- As anticipated Mark Teixeira received the night off with hopes it will help his lingering cough.
Everything points to Ivan Nova making his start this afternoon after he rolled his ankle in his last appearance. He will face off against Homer Bailey. Once again, the Yankees will deal with a pitcher they’ve never faced before. These situations give them fits and could extend their stretch of subpar offense. Nova on the other hand was spectacular in a game last season at Great American Ballpark, holding the Reds to one run in eight innings.
MY TWO CENTS
For what it’s worth, seeing Andy Pettitte dominant so early into his comeback is a double-edged sword for me. Here is why.
As Yankees fans we are spoiled. Pettitte personally has spoiled us now for 14 seasons with the Yankees. To perform as he did last night after being away from game for almost two full years is amazing. Moreover, to get to that point in just his second start may be hard to replicate.
I don’t want to rain on the party here; I’m as happy as anyone else with the fact he is back and obviously with the effort last night. I can safely say that Pettitte, should he stay healthy, is a key factor in any Yankees playoff aspirations.
My point is simply this; Yankees fans should not expect a lot of these performances from Pettitte. What we will more likely receive every fifth day from Pettitte is six or seven innings of two or three-run ball. He’ll mix in a one-run game here and there, and there will be games where he surrenders four runs or more.
Despite the turn-back-the-clock masterpiece last night, this is a 40-year old man who hasn’t pitched competitively in two seasons. We need to be mindful of this each time he goes out. We have to be happy that he is on the mound because we know his fire and desire to win is not easily matched. This is a unique advantage he has over his opponents.
Pettitte will win his share of games this year and he may turn in more outstanding outings along the way. But, be prepared for a few bumps in the road and some grind-them-out wins along the way. I like our chances each time he steps to the mound, but I’m not going to expect performances like last night from Pettitte very often and neither should you.
Topics: Alex Rodriguez, Andy Pettitte, Boone Logan, Brandon Phillips, Bronson Arroyo, Cincinnati Reds, Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter, Homer Bailey, Ivan Nova, Joe Girardi, Joey Votto, Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees, Nick Swisher, Raul Ibanez, Recap, Robinson Cano, Yankees, Zack Cozart