Pettitte allowed two runs on five hits an three walks in seven strong innings, and Jorge Posada homered to lead the Yankees to an easy 9-2 victory over the Rangers at Yankee Stadium Wednesday to remain six games ahead of the Red Sox in the AL East.
Entering the season, many people, including me, believed this likely would be Pettitte's final season. He struggled last year with a sore shoulder and has often said that while he loves pitching for the Yankees and in New York, he misses being with his family.
In each of the last two offseasons, Pettitte, 37, has considered retirement, but returned, first to close out the old Stadium, and then this year to open the new one. He agreed to an incentive-laden, one-year deal with a base salary of $6 million to be the team's No. 4 starter.
And though he was shaky in the first half, Pettitte has come on to be the team's best starter in the second half, solidifying the No. 3 spot in the rotation following Chien-Ming Wang's injury and building a case for the Yankees to bring him back next season -- that is if he chooses not to retire.
On Wednesday Pettitte struck out seven and threw 61 of 103 pitches in earning his 189th with the Yankees to tie Hall of Famer Lefty Gomez on the team victory list. Pettitte has 226 career wins, including his three-year stint with the Astros.
After escaping a bases-loaded jam in the first, Pettitte (11-6, 4.18 ERA) was in control. He allowed only an RBI double to David Murphy that made it 4-1 in the fourth and a two-out homer to Murphy in the seventh that made it 4-2. (Anyone else think the Sox would like to have that trade chip back?)
And it was a much needed performance given what the offense had to go through the night before when Joba Chamberlain couldn't make an 4-0 lead stand up.
Posada gave the Yankees a 3-0 lead with a three-run blast to center in the second and then the Yankees just kept pouring it on while Pettitte held down the Rangers. Jerry Hairston Jr. tacked on a homer in the fourth and then the offense broke it open with five in the seventh, highlight by a two-run singles by Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira, and an RBI single by Nick Swisher.
The only down note came when Posada and Alex Rodriguez were force to leave the game with injuries that turned out to be minor. Posada was hit by a foul ball on the left hand, aggravating a finger injury and A-Rod fouled a pitch off his foot and sustained a bruise.
Posada is day-to-day, but likely wasn't going to play in the day game today anyway.
But Pettitte was the star Wednesday.
In five starts this month he has gone 3-0 with a 2.84 ERA. This guy still has what it take to be a very successful pitcher in the American League and has plenty left in the tank.
I just hope we get to see him for at least another year.
Runners In Scoring Position
Since A-Rod's Return May 8
Vs. Red Sox
Thursday vs. Rangers, 1:05 p.m., YES
Dustin Nippert (4-2, 3.95) vs. A.J. Burnett (10-7, 4.08)
Burnett is coming off his first awful start in a long time. The last time he had a start that bad was June 8 in Boston and he responded with a strong, two-month run. Hopefully history will repeat itself and Burnett will shut down the Rangers to take the series.