By the time Mark Teixeira came to bat leading off the ninth inning, the Yankees already knew that Boston had plated six in the 9th to beat the Texas Rangers. (They probably didn’t know that five of the runs came with two outs after Clay Buchholz got himself thrown out at the plate as a pinch runner, but I digress.)
So as the 2-2 game headed into its final regulation frame, Mark Teixeira did what he does best: He ended it. He took the offering from Mark Lowe and slammed it into the right field seats. While the Yankees would tack on an insurance run later in the inning on a Nick Swisher single, that third run would be all the Yanks would need as they defeated the Seattle Mariners 4-2.
Tonight, the spotlight belonged to Andy Pettitte. After Yankee ace CC Sabathia went eight strong and struck out ten on Thursday night, Pettitte nearly out-dueled him. At 44 pitches through two innings and after surrendering two first-inning runs, Andy was, well, dandy. He nailed down ten of his 18 outs via the K and allowed just six hits and a walk. It was the first time since July 19 and 20, 2000, that Yankee pitchers struck out ten on consecutive days. Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens were the last two Yankee hurlers to accomplish that feat.
For Pettitte, the key tonight was the free-swinging Seattle Mariners who took too many strikes. Of his 67 strikes, 21 of them were called and another 19 were on swings-and-misses. By taking a lot of strikes and swinging through many others, the Mariners’ offense basically dug its own grave.
Pettitte would leave the game with 111 pitches through six innings and did not stick around to factor into the decision. He has been spectacular since the All Star break. In six starts, he has thrown 39.2 innings to the tune of a 2.04 ERA with 43 strike outs. Yet, he has just one win to show for it and tonight saw him nail another no decision.
After Pettitte left, Brian Bruney threw a scoreless 7th; Phil Hughes survived two walks with two strike outs of his own in the 8th; and Mariano Rivera, unavailable with a sore shoulder a few days ago, needed just nine pitches to record his AL-leading 34th save of the year.
Offensively, the Yanks were stymied by Ryan Rowland-Smith. The Australian lefty limited the Yanks to a few scratched runs. They scored on a Jerry Hairston ground-out in the second and a Derek Jeter single in the fifth. He was nearly as good as Pettitte but could not and did not go the distance. As the Red Sox did to Texas’ bullpen in the 9th, so too did the Yankees to Seattle’s.
And win 73 is in the books.