The Yankees leave for a nine-game road swing that begins in Oakland on Tuesday. They’ll bring little metaphorical baggage with them, not after a 9-3 start that is their best since 2003.
My game story tomorrow will focus on how Andy Pettitte found himself in the middle of eight strong innings, entering what he called survival mode and coming out with his second win of the season. The fitting finish for Pettitte kind of epitomizes the Yankees’ start. Almost all is right in their world, even at some moments when it seems it’s not.
• We’ll start the postgame with Pettitte. He said he scuffled early because of mechanical issues. Jorge Posada thought Pettitte finally loosened up in the middle innings, leaning on his experience to overcome a rocky stretch that was softened by the defense of Mark Teixeira.
Here’s Pettitte discussing how he felt fortunate to escape with such a strong outing and why the joy of winning here and competing for another championship brought him back:
• The afternoon included a small dose of self-perseverance for Teixeira, too. He slugged his first homer in 40 at-bats this season, his longest stretch without a long ball to open a season since 76 homerless at-bats to kick off 2007. Teixeira said he didn’t feel relief, quipping, “I had a pretty god feeling I was going to hit one this year.” Last year’s co-AL home run champ said “I’ve never hit 1.000, never will, and you always want to try and get better.”
• That question was now asked of Nick Johnson, who went 0 for 4 and earned a hat trick by looking at three different stirke threes. Johnson said he’s working in the batting cage on his lower half, which has been coming out from under him, but he also admitted the need to turn more aggressive. “I’ve been too passive, but I have to just go to the cage and keep working,” Johnson said. Joe Girardi disagreed. “We talk about him getting on base and he’s doing that,” Girardi said. “The hits are going to come.”
• I’ll have more tomorrow on Javier Vazquez, who will start Tuesday in Oakland in an attempt to regain his form of a year ago. But even with Vazquez, Yankee starters finished the homestand 5-1 with a 2.17 ERA in 37.2 IP. They allowed just 27 hits and 15 walks and struck out 36.
• Mariano Rivera recorded his fifth save. He is now just one shy of Eric Gagne’s record streak of 51 straight games saved at home, which Gagne accomplished from 2002-04 with the Dodgers.
• Here’s a listen to Girardi’s postgame, where he discusses Pettitte, Jeter, Johnson, Teixeira and more: