Lance Berkman said he never had any doubt. He’d seen his friend Andy Pettitte pitch in too many big games to worry about some sloppy starts down the stretch. This was the postseason, and Berkman believed Pettitte would be as good as ever.
“That’s who he is,” Berkman said. “I mean, the guy, he will give you a good start, there is no doubt about it. Guys have asked me a lot about, is the postseason different? Postseason is the postseason, and I don’t care, a World Series game is a World Series game, it doesn’t matter where you are playing. The intensity. The adrenaline. Nobody manages that better than Andy. I mean, whether he did it there (in Houston) or here, he’s the same guy. He does it everywhere. He’d do it for the Pirates or the Royals if they happened to make the postseason.”
The first two innings were vintage Pettitte. He had runners on base, but he got the double play in the first and limited the damage in the second.
“That’s Andy, because he has a way to get a double play,” Joe Girardi said. “He gets the double play in the first inning, he has the bases loaded in the second inning with one out, only gives up one run. That’s Andy Pettitte. We have seen him get big double-play balls his whole career and you feel good about that when he is doing that.”
After the walk in the second inning, Pettitte retired 12 in a row. He didn’t allow another hit until that game-tying home run by Orlando Hudson in the sixth. Even then, he stranded a runner at third and his friend Berkman was right there to pick him up in the seventh.
“I think yesterday I told the guys that I have never felt so unprepared going into the playoffs,” Pettitte said. “I felt like I would have a good outing, but it was just so similar (to past starts). I got locked in. Mechanically I just felt great. You know, the ball came out of my hand good. I asked the good Lord to help me get through it whenever I started the game. And Jorgie called a great game. Just so that got me even more in a good rhythm and feeling comfortable.”
Here’s Pettitte postgame.
CHAT TOMORROW: Almost forgot to mention this, but I’ll add it up here at the top of the notes. Sam and I are doing another chat Friday at 3:15 p.m. We’re going to chat for 30 minutes while the Yankees are having their workout at Yankee Stadium. Can’t go much longer than that because I’ll have to get back down to the clubhouse when it re-opens.
• Pettitte on Berkman: “I have been telling everybody in the clubhouse, this guy can hit the ball so far to the opposite field. He has more power oppo probably than anybody I ever played with, and it hasn’t clicked for him for the last two months. He literally told me he kind of made an adjustment in his stance, him and K-Long the other day, and he said he was launching balls in BP yesterday. He said he felt unbelievable up there and felt like he was going to be able to drive the ball the other way. And I mean, then he goes out and hits a couple of balls oppo like he did tonight.”
• The home run was Berkman’s first in the postseason since 2005. “I was really more excited about the fact that I actually drove a ball to left-center, which is something I haven’t done, which has really been a strength of mine throughout my career,” Berkman said. “In the postseason, you go 1-for-5 with a home run, you feel pretty good about it. But I was really more pleased with, all right, now I feel like I can compete maybe. I’m driving the ball that way.”
• Berkman on hitting eighth: “I never hit eighth before. I can say that I did get pinch-hit for one time in Houston a long time ago, but, you know, it’s different. You have to be willing, but what am I going to do? It makes you feel better when you have A-Rod and Tex and Robby and Grandy. Those are great, great players. And I mean, I don’t expect to hit in front of any of those guys. I am just glad to be in the lineup.”
• Another big inning from Kerry Wood. Both he and Jorge Posada said his stuff was much better tonight than last night, and he needed only 10 pitches — nine strikes — to get through the eighth. “It was nice to actually do it and not have Mo come in for a four-out save,” Wood said.
• Posada scored from first on Berkman’s go-ahead double. “I think Mick Kelleher pushed me to get out there,” Posada said. “I needed that help.”
• Obviously Ron Gardenhire wasn’t happy about the 1-2 pitch immediately before Berkman’s double. The Twins wanted strike three. Berkman and Hunter Wendelstedt thought it was ball two. “That’s a very borderline pitch,” Berkman said. “Sometimes it gets called, sometimes it doesn’t. I felt like Hunter was very consistent all night with not giving anything inside. He was giving probably four to six inches off the outside corner, wasn’t giving anything over the inside corner. So that was the strike zone.”
• Gardenhire on his ejection: “I thought the ball was a strike, he didn’t call it a strike, and I wanted to make sure he knew that. But I wanted to get him away from my guys, because there are a lot of guys full of emotion at that time and I wanted Carl to concentrate. They were going to bunt over and get the outs. That’s what I told my guys on the mound, and then I said what I said to stay.”
• Posada passed David Justice for third place in career postseason games played.
• Alex Rodriguez is hitting .368 with five doubles, seven home runs, 20 RBI and 18 runs in his past 19 postseason games dating back to October 7, 2007.
• Rivera has allowed one run in his past 19 postseason appearances.
*** Sorry for the delay getting these posted. For whatever reason I couldn’t log into the blog after the game. I have no idea what went wrong but it was annoying to say the least.***
Associated Press photos of Pettitte, Rodriguez and Teixeira, and Rivera