Sunday, June 9, 2013

Another Great Page in the Book of Andy Pettitte

The Yankees won the opener of their series with the Seattle Mariners on Thursday night. On Friday night, the pitching matchup certainly favored the Yankees: The very consistent Hiroki Kuroda, vs. Jeremy Bonderman, the former Detroit Tiger washout now trying a comeback with his hometown team (sort of, he's from Pasco, Washington), making just his second professional appearance since the 2010 season.

The Yankees struck quickly on Bonderman in the top of the 1st: Brett Gardner led off the game with a double, Robinson Cano walked, Mark Teixeira moved the runners over with a groundout, and Travis Hafner got Gardner home with another groundout. But that was it:

* 2nd: Vernon Wells leads off by reaching on a fielding error, Ichiro Suzuki singles him over to 2nd, but Wells tries to steal 3rd and gets caught. "Never make the first or last out of the inning at 3rd base" is one of baseball's "unwritten rules." Reid Brignac struck out, Chris Stewart flied out. 1st & 2nd with nobody out, and no runs.

* 5th: Brignac singles with 1 out. Gets stranded.

* 8th: Gardner walks with 2 outs. Gets stranded.

* 9th: Kevin Youkilis doubles with 2 out. Gets stranded.

That was all the Yankee baserunners in the game. Meanwhile, Kuroda contracted onebadinningitis, allowing 4 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks in the bottom of the 4th. Other than that, between them, Kuroda and Preston Claiborne allowed no runs on 5 hits and 1 walk over 8 innings.

Mariners 4, Yankees 1.  WP: Bonderman (1-1, his first win at any level since September 25, 2010). SV: Tom Wilhelmsen (15).  LP: Kuroda (6-5).


Yesterday was a different story. Andy Pettitte took the mound, and you'd never have known he was 41 years old. He pitched into the 8th, allowing 1 run on 3 hits and -- I love these words in connection with a Yankee pitcher, any Yankee pitcher -- no walks. David Robertson finished up the 8th, and Mariano Rivera the 9th.

The Yankees got runs on RBI singles from Robinson Cano in the 1st and Jayson Nix in the 5th, bracketing a sacrifice fly from Gardner in the 4th. Yankees 3, Mariners 1.

WP: Pettitte (5-3).  SV: Rivera (22).  LP: Joe Saunders (4-6).


This was the 250th win in Pettitte's career -- his 213th as a Yankee, with 37 coming in his 3-year sojourn back in his hometown in Houston. Only Whitey Ford's 236 and Red Ruffing's 231 surpass him in a Yankee uniform; next is Lefty Gomez, well back at 189. Whitey and Red are also the only Yankees ahead of him in innings pitched: Ford, 3,170 1/3; Ruffing, 3,168 2/3; Pettitte, 2,672 1/3; next is Mel Stottlemyre at 2,661 1/3.

To put it in other perspectives: If we presume that Jamie Moyer, now 50 years old (matching his usual uniform number) and currently not signed with any team, is truly done, Andy has more wins than any active pitcher. It's not even close: Roy Halladay and Tim Hudson are next, both at 201. CC Sabathia is next at 197. Only 5 other active pitchers have 150.

Here is a list of the pitchers with the most wins, among those who began their careers in or after 1977, the 1st year I can remember watching baseball on TV:

1. Greg Maddux 355
2. Roger Clemens 354
3. Tom Glavine 305
4. Randy Johnson 303
5. Mike Mussina 270
6. Jamie Moyer 269
7. Jack Morris 254
8. Andy Pettitte 250

Glavine, Johnson and Moyer are the only lefties ahead of Pettitte.

When you consider that Andy has pitched his entire career in the era of the 5-man rotation, not the 4-man, let's see, 5/4 = 1.2, and 250 x 1.2 = an even 300. So, winning 250 in this era really is like hitting the old magic number.

Baseball-Reference's Hall of Fame Monitor, on which 100 is a "Likely HOFer," has Andy at 128, meaning he makes it easily. Their Hall of Fame Standards, on which 50 is the "Average HOFer," has him at 43, meaning he falls a little short.

Their 10 Most Similar Pitchers are former teammates Mussina, David Wells, Dwight Gooden, Kevin Brown and Kenny Rogers (let's pretend those last 2 were never Yankees, shall we?); plus Yankee Legends Catfish Hunter and Herb Pennock, Bob Welch, Juan Marichal and Orel Hershiser. Of those, Marichal, Hunter and Pennock are already in the Hall, Mussina isn't yet eligible but should get in, and the rest won't make it.

Yesterday's game was also the 71st time Mariano saved a game won by Andy.  I can't figure out who's 2nd on that all-time list -- for all I know, it may be Mariano and another Yankee, such as David Cone or even CC Sabathia (who's now at 197 wins -- the only active pitchers besides Pettitte ahead of him are Roy Halladay and Tim Hudson, both now at 201).

This, on top of 19 postseason wins, 14 postseason appearances (would've been 15 but he was injured for the Astros' 2004 run), 8 Pennants (including 2005 with the Astros) and 5 World Championships.

Andrew Eugene Pettitte has had one of the best careers of the last 20 years; indeed, except for Mariano, it could be argued that he has had the best career of any pitcher in that stretch.


But perhaps an even bigger moment for the Pettitte family came yesterday as the Major League Baseball Draft moved into its later rounds. In the 37th round, the Yankees chose Josh Pettitte, Andy's son. Josh has announced his intention to attend Baylor University in Waco, Texas rather than sign, but it sure looks like, if he does well there, the Yankees will still have the inside track on him.

Fascinating: The soccer transfer window does not officially open until July 1, and many of my fellow Arsenal fans are going out of their minds speculating on who the club will bring in, desperate to get their Cesc Fabregas fix, terrified and/or angry that Arsene Wenger, as usual, won't bring in any big names and will instead go for some cheap 19-year-old French kid that he's heard if but no one else living in England has. It's worse than the lead-up to the draft for our football, and it lasts 2 whole months.

Meanwhile, over here, the baseball amateur draft was conducted, and until Josh Pettitte was selected, most Yankee Fans couldn't have cared less. Suddenly, it's like the draft put on makeup and we saw how beautiful she can really be.


As for the Mets, and what they did yesterday, well, it's a long story. Twenty innings long.

Tropical Storm Andrea wiped out back-to-back home games for the Mets. They overcompensated: For the 3rd time in their 52-season history, the Flushing club went to a 20th inning at home. And, as with the other 2, they lost: 2-1 to the Miami Marlins at Citi Field. The Mets were 0-for-19 with runners in scoring position. 

In 1964, they went 23 innings in a Shea Stadium loss to San Francisco - the 2nd game of a doubleheader. This after calling up Ed Kranepool from Buffalo, where he'd played a doubleheader the day before - 51 innings in 48 hours.

In 1974, the Mets lost at Shea to St. Louis after 25 innings. In 1968, they were in Houston and lost in 24. As far as I know, the longest game the Mets have ever won is 19, away to Atlanta, July 4, 1985, a.k.a. The Rick Camp Game.

The Yankees? Their longest game was away to Detroit in 1962. Jack Reed hit his only major league home run to forge a 7-6 win in the 22nd inning.

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