Mariano Rivera came into the clubhouse tonight after locking down the save and tried to hand Andy Pettitte the ball as a souvenir of the record they tied tonight. Pettitte has won 57 games Rivera has saved, the same number Bob Welch and Dennis Eckersley had.
“You know what? You keep that one,” Pettitte said. “Hopefully if we’re able to break this thing one day, you let me have the one we break it with.”
As records go, it’s a bit contrived. But what it does speak to is longevity of excellence. Rivera signed with the Yankees in 1990 out of a fishing village in Panama. They found Pettitte a year later at a junior college in Texas. Now here they are in 2009, combining to win a game.
Pettitte has 180 wins as a Yankee and Rivera has saved 57 of them.
“Those two guys have been staples here for a long time,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “They’ve been amazing with what they’ve been able to do and accomplish together. This is kind of special.”
I spent much of the winter on this blog saying the Yankees needed to sign Pettitte. Now he’s 2-0, 2.53 and has given them 21.1 innings in three starts. It was a smart move to keep him and it’ll only look better as the season moves on.
Pettitte didn’t have a good cut fastball tonight and allowed nine hits without a strikeout. But he walked off the mound leading 5-2. Very few teams — if any — have a No. 4 starter like that. With the issues Chien-Ming Wang is having, having Pettitte is huge for this team.
A few other observations from tonight …
• A.J. Burnett is an interesting cat. He downloaded the WordPower application to his iPhone and is learning words and phrases in Chinese so he can talk to Wang in is native tongue.
Before the game, A.J. was trying out his Chinese on Wang, making the pitcher (and the Taiwanese media) laugh. Trust me when I tell you, Wang needed to laugh. This last week has been trying for him.
Kind of shows you what a good teammate Burnett is, something the Yankees really didn’t know too much about before they signed him.
• All of the players got new, hard-sided wheeled luggage tonight. It’s to take on road trips. When you hear the players say that the Yankees are an organization that takes care of their players, this is the kind of thing they’re taking about.
• According to Will Carroll, no position player has ever needed a second Tommy John surgery. So can imagine how relieved Xavier Nady is.
• Every time Brian Cashman or Joe Girardi are asked a specific question about A-Rod’s timetable, they speak in careful generalities. What they’re doing is trying not to raise expectations. But it still sounds like he is well ahead of schedule.