I was in Toronto on May 29, 2007 when Aaron Hill of the Jays stole home on Andy Pettitte. It wasn’t the back end of a double steal or some other trickery, it was a straight, Jackie Robinson mad dash and Pettitte was furious about it.
“It’s embarrassing,” he said. “I’ll never let that happen again.”
Less than two years later, Pettitte had the bases loaded and a 2-1 lead when he went into a full wind-up against J.D. Drew. Jacoby Ellsbury, watching from third base, joked with third base coach DeMarlo Hale that he should try and steal home.
On the third pitch, he did just that. Ellsbury stumbled as he arrived at the plate, unsure of how he wanted to slide. He went head first and beat the tag of Jorge Posada. It wasn’t close.
“When I saw Andy go into his wind-up the previous pitch, I was thinking, ‘I can make it.’ It’s just a matter of going at that point,” Ellsbury said. “The biggest thing is getting the courage to go.”
Pettitte admitted that Posada told him to watch Ellsbury. He also chastised himself for not pitching out of the stretch. It’s inexcusable given that Ellsbury is one of a handful of players in the game who has the speed to pull that play off.
Joe Girardi, a staunch defender of his players, offered no excuses for Pettitte.
“He needs to check,” Girardi said. “He knows to check and he just didn’t do it. … It shouldn’t happen. It shouldn’t happen and it did.”
Here’s Girardi’s postgame press conference from tonight:
The Yankees are 9-9, hardly reason to panic. But they tossed away games they should have won on Friday and Saturday and got shut down by a No. 5 starter and three fringy relievers tonight. Hunter Jones has pitched in one game. Michael Bowden was called up earlier in the day and Takashi Saito had a 5.06 ERA.
Now the Yankees very badly need CC Sabathia to be CC Sabathia tonight in Detroit or the wolves will start snapping at the heels of Girardi. It’s unfair to evaluate the Yankees until they get Alex Rodriguez back. Girardi also can’t be faulted for Chien-Ming Wang having a 34.50 ERA.
But a new Stadium with empty premium seats, a huge payroll and memories of finishing third last season won’t give Girardi much of a cushion. The Yankees need to actually get off to that good start they keep talking about.