Pettitte + Defense = 4 In Row

July 21, 2009 – 11:11 am

NYY 2, Baltimore 1. So add Andy Pettitte to the “quality start” bandwagon that is gathering steam in Yankee land lately. Andy pitched another gem for the Yankees, going 7.1 innings and allowing just 1 run on 6 hits. He even matched Joba’s strike out total from the previous game with 8 K’s, and showed even better command of the strike zone than Joba did with 70% strikes out of 109 pitches. That’s now 3 very good starts for Pettitte in his last 6 outings — probably about all you can expect from him at this point in his career. But as I’ve said all along, if your No. 5 starter is winning at a .500+ rate you should be in excellent shape.

You're Out!Even with the great pitching, though, the real star of this game was the defense. Pettitte got out of the 6th and 7th innings on nicely turned double plays by the infield, and twice Robbie Cano artfully deked Oriole base runners in to holding up on hits to right-field which more than likely saved a couple of runs. But the real gems were the back-to-back outs at home plate in the 8th. First was Teixeira making an incredible throw to home to get Markakis on a fielder’s choice. Which was quickly followed by Jose Molina making an even more incredible recovery and throw to Phil Coke covering home to tag out Brian Roberts, who was trying to score on Coke’s wild pitch. And credit Coke with covering the plate and making the tag like a seasoned infielder. Without those two plays it’s 3-1 Orioles going in to the 9th, and quite likely the Yankees don’t win this one.

Which of course brings us to Hideki Matsui’s 9th inning walk-off home run. That’s the ninth walk-off win this year for the Yankees, more than they had all last year. Things are really, really starting to go right for this team. They stole this game from the jaws of defeat at least three different times, they are now 4-0 since the break, and now tied with Boston for the AL East as well as for the best record in the league. Momentum can be pretty fickle, though, and with Sergio Mitre (career 10-23, 5.26 ERA) going up against a struggling Rich Hill (season 7.22 ERA) I suspect we’re not going to see yet another 2-1 game. It’s time to see the Yankee bats come back alive.

Photo: NY Post

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