Leave it to the high school kid to perfectly sum up the past five hours or so.
“It’s a good day for the Pettittes, I guess,” Josh Pettitte said.
When it was over, Josh seemed to steal the show, and Andy was all too happy to hand over the spotlight. The Yankees 37th-round draft pick might have been more ceremonial than anything, but it was a sentimental choice that carried real weight in the clubhouse. The Yankees seemed to celebrate Josh’s selection as much as they celebrated their own win and their iconic lefty’s milestone.
“It’s all tied in together now for me,” Andy said. “It’s like I can’t separate them because they’re both together. It just all happened right here, and the game was ending, so it’s just really cool.”
This win was arguably Pettitte’s finest start of the year, and his 250th career win came 18 years and one day after his first win. Pettitte scattered three hits today, walked none and struck out six. He was terrific, showing no signs of trouble in his second start off the disabled list.
“I was able to throw the ball to both sides of the plate,” Pettitte said. “The cutter, had a good feel for that. It was going down and it wasn’t too hard today like I feel like it has been. The velocity has been good, but I just feel like I’ve been forcing it a little bit, so just tried to back off a little bit today and tried to get a little bit better feel. And it was good to get a good feel today.”
But honestly, this win was about something more than Pettitte having command of his cutter. Ultimately, the whole day became a kind of celebration of Pettitte’s legacy.
“I feel very blessed being able to play this game as long as I have,” he said. “To be able to be on this club, play with this team, play with so many great players, have Mo close out so many of these games, it makes it so special because he’s such a great friend. It’s a good day.”
• This was the 71st time that Rivera saved a game that Pettitte won. Rivera said he gave Pettitte the ball. “I celebrate the same as he does,” Rivera said. “For me, it’s the same joy that he has. Knowing that I have been there for every one of them and being able to contribute a little bit to his success. I’m as happy as he is.”
• Rivera joked that Pettitte needs to pitch another five or six years so that he can pitch with Josh. “Yeah right,” Pettitte said. “My goodness.”
• Of course, the joke turned on Rivera when someone asked him how it felt to have the Yankees draft someone who he remembers as a little kid in the clubhouse. “C’mon, man, why you asking that question?” Rivera said. “What do you want me to tell you? There’s only one word, and I ain’t gonna say it.”
• Why go to Dave Robertson in the eighth when Pettitte was only at 85 pitches? “Well, it’s the eighth inning and that adds to it,” Joe Girardi said. “If it’s the sixth inning, it’s probably a different story and he’s at 85. He’s had to get up and down a number of times. (Brendan) Ryan has had more success off of lefties. I just decided to go to Robbie. That’s his job.”
• Rivera has 22 saves, halfway to his total for 2011, his last healthy season.
• Kevin Youkilis had to make a sliding play at first base, and he seemed to be stretching and moving a little awkwardly immediately afterward. It didn’t look good for a guy coming off a back injury, but Youkilis stayed in the game. “I was worried when he slid again,” Girardi said. “But no, he was fine.”
• Big two-RBI day for Jayson Nix. “Nix has swung the bat really well for us,” Girardi said. “That’s why we put him in the two-hole against lefties, because he’s done a really good job. To get us that tack-on run, the third one, is extremely important. We’ve had contributions from guys all year long. You get them from Nixy today and it’s important.”
• Brett Gardner extended his hitting streak to six games. He has a hit in 14 of his past 16 games and has scored in 16 of his past 23 starts. This was his 13th multi-hit game of the season and his first three-hit game.
• Perhaps the least expected production came from Vernon Wells, who had two hits today. He had just one hit this month before today. “The funny thing is, I haven’t felt bad,” Wells said. “That’s the only thing that’s kept me from snapping; I’ve had some good at-bats, hit some balls hard, but obviously the results are all that matters. Today I took some good swings, found some holes and hopefully I can continue doing that for a good stretch here.”
• Does Wells remember his last two-hit game? “Too long ago, let’s put it that way,” he said. “Let’s not go through another streak like that between multi-hit games. Sound good? Sounds like a plan.”
• From MLB’s latest All-Star voting update: Robinson Cano is still leading at second base by quite a bit.
• Final word goes to Girardi, talking about whether the Yankees knew Pettitte was coming up on a milestone win. “We were well aware. I knew the day that I took him out in the fourth inning or the fifth inning. He said he’d get one more out. I knew that was his 250th win. You want to get those milestones out of the way and I’m glad we did today. … 250 wins and a lot of postseason wins too. He’s been a great Yankee and when you talk about one of the all-time greats, that’s what he has been. He has been a pleasure to play with and a pleasure to manage.”
Associated Press photos