It’s easy to forget that Andy Pettitte began the 2009 season as the No. 5 starter. After a stellar April he’s put up a few clunkers, causing a rabble among Yankees fans. That’s what No. 5 starters do, though. They’re going to get smacked around here or there. If they didn’t, they’d be billed as a No. 4 starter. So while we groan during games like Andy’s last start, we also get up and cheer when he posts a seven-inning, two-run effort. That was enough for the Yankees tonight, as they relied on the long ball to down the Mariners 4-2, ticking off their seventh straight win.
Pettitte used just 98 pitches in his seven innings, striking out five Mariners while walking just one. Even better, while he allowed six hits, he only faced runners in scoring position in two innings. The Mariners went 0 for 5 in those situations. On a nostalgic note, Ken Griffey Jr. hit career home run No. 621, a line drive to right. It’s a bit strange seeing him back in blue and teal, though he looks quite different than he did in his first Seattle stint.
The rejuvenated bullpen closed out the game with ease, with Aceves and Coke combining for a perfect eighth, and Mariano capping it with career save No. 502. Here’s to June’s magic rubbing off onto July.
Chicks dug Johnny Damon, Melky Cabrera, and especially Alex Rodriguez last night. All three homered, accounting for all four Yankees runs. Johnny Damon got things started with a lazer to right in the third for the first score of the game. The Mariners tied the game in the next frame, but Melky Cabrera came back in the fifth with a contested home run. Apparently this was too close to call at home. From my vantage point, which was perfect, the ball was clearly fair. There was so little question that I was actually a bit ticked when the umps went to review. All ended well, though, and the Yanks took the lead again. It wouldn’t last long, as Ken Griffey worked his magic a half-inning later.
A half-inning after his former teammate tied the game, Alex Rodriguez put one out to center field, far past the reach of Franklin Gutierrez, who gave it a valiant effort. That was a two run shot, and even though it was just the sixth inning at the time it felt like icing on the cake. One more inning from Andy, Hughes, Mo. Of course, we didn’t get Hughes, but it all worked out just the same.
Andy Pettitte is now 8-3 with a 4.25 ERA. If I asked you in February if you’d be happy with that at this point, I’m sure you’d have said yes. I’d say there’s no better fifth starter in the league, but with the way Wang’s been pitching, Andy is certainly the No. 4. Which just goes to show that these No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 assignments are largely meaningless. Pitch well. That’s all. Pettitte did that tonight, and the Yanks tallied yet another win. I’ll take it every time.