There was something Nick Swisher said tonight…
“In this locker room, coming down the stretch, there’s no stress. We’ve got the leaders and the veterans who have been there before, and we look to them for guidance.”
Isn’t that what makes Andy Pettitte who he is? There should be a sense of not knowing what to expect — he’s 40 years old, came out of retirement in March, missed two and a half months with a broken ankle — but he takes the ball in a game like this, delivers six scoreless and everyone talks about that being the Pettitte everyone was expecting. The guy hasn’t allowed a run since coming off the disabled list, and we’re being reminded of everything that created the Pettitte legacy in the first place.
“It’s the same old Andy. We’ve seen it for years. When he needs a double play, he finds a way to get it. … I think a lot of it has to do with his preparation. He knows that he’s prepared every time he goes out there. How consistent his work is. That his mechanics are going to be consistent for the most part every time he goes out there. He’s been in so many situations, he’s able to relax and not make too much of one hitter. It has a lot to do with poise. He’s got a lot of poise.”
“He’s a natural competitor. You’re going to have to try to outcompete him, and I don’t know anybody that can really do that. He’s going to make pitches, he’s going to make quality pitches, and that’s it. He’s in control, he’s in command out there. Even behind in counts he doesn’t give in. He’s going to make that hitter earn his money.”
“It was tough (facing him with Oakland). He used to throw the cutter, and then he actually later started throwing sinkers, so that made it really tough. And then obviously he’d put you away with a slider. He just makes good pitches. You don’t have to have good stuff to make good pitches, and he’s evidence of that. … I think he’s more bullish (with men in scoring position). He doesn’t want to give that up. He had a couple of groundballs and you could tell, in his mind, in that at-bat, he’s like I want to get a groundball right here and turn two. And he’s able to execute those pitches.”
“I love this guy, dude. I absolutely love him, bro. There’s nothing that fazes him. Takes a full year off, comes back, breaks his foot on a crazy play, Has been itching to get back in the (rotation) for a long time, and once he does, he delivers every single time. You can only look at that, and just be like, man, I want to be like that. Every time he takes that mound, he’s locked in out there. I’m not as fierce as he is, man, I know that.”
“I just feel like I’m able to relax and get the ball where I want to. Maybe it’s crazy, but maybe my focus gets even a little bit tighter when you get in a little bit tougher jams. I can remember giving up plenty of big hits with runners in scoring position and stuff, so you just try to command your mechanics and see your pitches and have an idea of what you want to do with the hitter. And I was fortunate to be able to execute it tonight on some pitches.”
• The Yankees lead is up to a game and a half, the largest its been since September 2. “You’ve got to like it,” Girardi said. “Any time you can pick that up, it’s great. We’ve been so close since about September 1, since this started, so any time you can do that, it’s great.”
• Pettitte kind of looked awkward coming off the mound at one point, but everyone said it was a non-issue.
• Curtis Granderson is the fifth Yankee to have back-to-back 40-homer seasons, joining Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle and Jason Giambi. “At least for one sentence I get to get compared to those guys, so that’s pretty cool,” he said.
• A half inning after his homer, Granderson threw out Ryan Doumit at the plate. It was a good throw, and probably a better tag by Martin. “We’re up and it was kind of a time where you could make more of a risk there being up for vs. it being closer or later in the ballgame,” Granderson said. “Russ did a great job hanging in there, catching the ball and applying the tag.”
• Swisher said something last year about it taking a “grown man” to hit the ball out to the gaps in this park. He did just that tonight. “I must have turned into one. I’ve grown up, guys!” Swisher said. “… I thought it was going off the wall. I truly did. And then the next thing I knew it was going off the scoreboard. I was like, oh (wow)!”
• Girardi went to the mound to check on Pettitte in the sixth inning, but it was a quick visit and Pettitte stayed in the game. “I just wanted to make sure he had a little bit left in the tank,” Girardi said.
• Pettitte was predictably hard on himself tonight. “I know how sharp I was when I got hurt, and obviously I’m a work in progress right now,” he said. “I would love to see my stuff get back to where it was, so, there’s some stuff I still need to work on and get some reps in my bullpens and stuff like that but like I said it was good to be able to stay out of the middle of zone and make some big pitches and get some big outs when I needed it. Hopefully we can continue to do that and help this team win.”
• Pettitte didn’t go too much into specifics of what he needs to fix, but it seems like nothing more than minor tinkering and adding some durability in his legs. “I just think starting the game out, I felt stronger,” he said. “Again, I have some stuff mechanically I need to work out. There’s some things I know I need to do. I could sit here and bore you all to death with it. I know I still have some work.”
• Martin said he thought Pettitte was pretty sharp and Pettitte was just being hard on himself. Here’s Girardi on Pettitte: “I thought he made a big step tonight. I thought his command was better than the other day. What did he get up to, 87, 88 (pitches)? I think those are two pretty big steps today. I think he’s a lot closer.”
• Final word goes to Swisher. “It almost feels like nobody’s even paying attention to how many games are left. We’re just letting this thing snowball into something big. We’ve been playing great ball here as of late, and that’s what we want to continue to keep doing. All the way into the end of October. Right now, we feel great, getting guys healthy, getting guys back, getting huge hits at big times and usually that results in big wins for us.”
Associated Press photos