Did anyone else get the feeling last night that Pettitte was on the verge of being hammered? I don’t know what it is, but it seems like every time he goes out there, I keep thinking that the hitters are going to catch on and start whaling him. But most of the time, he ends up just fine. Last night was no different, as he turned in a good performance, both in process and results. One run on six hits, two walks, and six strikeouts through seven innings is a damn good line. It’s especially good because he trotted out for the 7th while already over the 100-pitch mark.
Maybe it’s because Pettitte is such a damn nibbler nowadays. He sorta has to be, considering his diminished velocity. But a lot of his pitches out of the zone juuuust miss, leading to a lot of 2-0 and 3-1 counts. Normally, we see pitchers hammered when they get into a lot of those. But it’s not like Pettitte is missing by a lot; he has good enough control to come right back in there and throw you a strike. And he’ll hit a corner while doing it, too.
This goes some distance in explaining his poor outings in late June and July. If he has a start where he’s not hitting his corners, he’s going to get rocked like he did against the A’s. In that kind of scenario, if he tries to throw a strike to a corner on a 2-0 count, he might miss and hit the batter’s hot zone.
But even if he’s off, he can still compensate and give you some good innings because his secondary stuff keeps hitters off time. Yeah, his cutter might not be working, but his curve and change do just fine. That might not work for seven innings, but he can keep you in the game for five or six in those instances, which is far more than a guy like, say, Moose can do at this point. If Moose isn’t on, he’s getting rocked. If Pettitte isn’t on, he might get rocked.
This is why he’s so invaluable to the 2007 team, especially now that the players are hitting to their capabilities. On an “on” day, Pettitte can give you seven or eight strong innings. On an “off” day, he might give up seven or eight runs, or he might give up three or four through five or six innings. That gives the offense room to win the game, which simply wasn’t happening earlier in the season
In other notes from last night: Wasn’t Jeter’s homer really freakin’ sweet? Pitch Jeter outside and that’s what he can do to you. Pitch him inside and he’ll rip a double down the third base line. Pitch around him and he’ll take a walk. This is why I feel he should be our leadoff guy, with Damon batting ninth. A man can dream, no?
Today is a big game. Too many times recently the Yanks have taken the first two of a series, or the first three in the cases of Toronto and Kansas City, and failed to finish the sweep. Yeah, two of three and three of four are nice, but when you have a chance for a sweep, you gotta finish them off. Good teams do that. Mediocre teams don’t. This game will go a long way in defining what kind of team the Yanks will be from here on out.