The last two times Andy Pettitte started a World Series game on a Saturday night, things did not go so well. Game Six of the 2003 World Series saw Pettitte take the loss as the Marlins clinched and Game Six in 2001 had the Diamondbacks absolutely teeing off on Pettitte as the Yanks failed to clinch. So when Pettitte struggled with 51 pitches and three runs allowed through two innings, I feared history might be repeating itself.
But Pettitte rebounded to retire the Phils in order on just nine pitches in the third, and the tide began to turn. In the top of the fourth, Mark Teixeira got the benefit of a close call on a 3-2 pitch (PitchFX had it as a strike) to draw a one out walk. Alex Rodriguez followed and fought a fastball down the right field line. It appeared to hit off the top of the wall, giving the Yankees runners on second and third. But, upon review the ball was found to have hit the lens of a television camera that jutted over the wall and into play. In the opinion of the umpires the ball would have cleared the fence had it not hit the camera and was ruled a home run. Typical of this post-season, even with replay, even with the call supposedly right, it was still controversial, as Charlie Manuel claims this ground rule was not disclosed to the Phillies before the game.
Back in the game, Pettitte continued to bear down, working around an inning opening error in the fourth and retiring the next three batters on just twelve total pitches. Nick Swisher, who like A-Rod entered the game struggling, led off the top of the fifth with a double. Trailing by a run and with the pitcher's spot on deck, Melky Cabrera struck out in a critical at bat, meaning Andy Pettitte would need a hit if he was to drive the tying run home. On the first pitch of the at bat Hamels, who had largely stayed away from his curveball until the fifth, hung a curve to Pettitte. Pettitte dropped a base hit into center field, giving him his first RBI since his first at bat of interleague play earlier this year, and tying the score at three.
After Derek Jeter singled Pettitte to second, Johnny Damon doubled into the right field gap, scoring Pettitte and Jeter and giving the Yankees a 5-3 lead. Another walk to Teixeira ended Hamels night, but J.A. Happ wriggled out of the jam with an A-Rod line out and a Jorge Posada pop out on a 3-0 pitch.
Armed with a two run lead, Pettitte cruised through the bottom of the inning, retiring the side in order on eleven pitches. Swisher continued his slump busting in the top of the sixth, blasting a solo home run to left to run the lead to 6-3. Pettitte gave the run back in the bottom of the inning, surrending Jayson Werth's second solo shot of the night, a monster blast off the facing of the left field second deck. Pettitte labored through the rest of the inning but allowed no further damage, ending his night with a 6-4 lead through six innings.
The Yankees tacked on an additional run in both the seventh and eighth innings, courtesy of an RBI single from Jorge Posada and a pinch hit home run from Hideki Matsui. The Yankees got perfect relief innings from Joba Chamberlain in the seventh and Damaso Marte in the eighth, and with a four run lead, handed the ball to Phil Hughes for the ninth.
Hughes retired Pedro Feliz leading off the inning, but then a left a 1-1 fastball up to Carlos Ruiz, and Chooch deposited it into the left field bleachers. Perhaps indicative of his current level of faith in Hughes, Joe Girardi had Mariano Rivera warming up behind Hughes all the while, and he was immediately summoned following the homer. It was perhaps a bit unnecessary, but Mo managed to close the door on just five pitches, so he should be good to go in Game Four.
The win allowed the Yankees to recapture homefield advantage and carry a 2-1 lead and a favorable pitching match-up into Game Four. Pettitte's RBI was the first for a Yankee pitcher in the World Series since Jim Bouton in 1964, and his win added to his post-season record. Mo's appearance was his 22nd in World Series play, tying him with Whitey Ford for the most all-time. We'll see you later on today.