At this point, Andy Pettitte has no use for personal victories. He pitched pretty well tonight, and he seemed perfectly indifferent to that. He knew it was true, but he made a couple of mistakes to A.J. Pierzynski, and that was enough to eclipse everything else.
“I just look at it, if Shawn (Kelley) didn’t come in tonight and get those outs for me right there (in the seventh), it would have been another four runs and we’d be saying, ‘You threw the ball horrible,’” Pettitte said. “We want to win. I want to win. At this stage of my (career), I’m not looking to be positive about (saying) I felt good with my stuff tonight, because I’ve been feeling good with it.”
The Yankees clubhouse felt legitimately alive last night. The offense had actually fought back against an awfully good pitcher, and they’d pulled a win out of a sure defeat. But there was no such rally tonight. The Yankees got one run because of an error, and otherwise went quietly.
It’s not the sort of thing Pettitte is used to.
“I haven’t had it a whole lot with the Yankees,” Pettitte said. “But I went through it with the Astros. You don’t worry about it. I’m telling you, I ain’t taking the mound worrying about whether we’re going to score runs or not. Our guys are grinding, and that’s all you can do. Our team, this is what we have. We’re going out there and battling and competing and I love it. I love the approach the guys are taking. I don’t think anybody’s got their head down. I think everybody’s giving a great effort. We’ve just got to keep doing that, and hopefully we can figure out a way to turn this thing around.”
Those Astros teams that Pettitte was with won 92 games, then 89 games, then 82 games. All three finished second, and two of the three went to the playoffs. It wasn’t winning like Pettitte came to know in New York, but at least those Houston teams scored more runs than they allowed. The Yankees aren’t doing that this season.
Just tonight their first two batters singled, each stole a base, and each went stranded.
“I wouldn’t say there’s any pressure; we deal with this every day,” Brett Gardner said. “It’s a little frustrating, but once the inning is over, we go out there and play defense then try and come back in the second and score. You know you have eight more shots at it. We just weren’t able to get anything going tonight. That’s kind of been the story for the last little while.”
• Before tonight’s Cubs game in Phoenix, Alfonso Soriano told reporters that he is willing to accept a trade to the Yankees. “I have a list,” Soriano said. “The Yankees are on the list.”
• Why do the Yankees need an all-or-nothing guy like Soriano? Well, they’ve gone six straight games without a home run, their longest streak since 1996. Right-handed hitters have one home run in the Yankees past 55 games. Jayson Nix is their only righty to go deep since May 23. May 23!
• Pettitte went six-plus innings, allowing two runs. Both runs were driven in by Pierzynski, a lefty who actually has a .393 career average against Pettitte in 28 career at-bats. That’s the third highest average against Pettitte for active players with at least 25 at-bats against him.
• Pettitte on the Pierzynski homer: “I feel like if I go out there in the (sixth) and put up a zero instead of giving up the lead right there, we might score that next inning. It just puts a little bit more pressure on the other guy pitching out there. It’s just extremely frustration, especially how the lefty, Pierzynski, could do that. He’s a good hitter, but you feel like you should be able to handle him a little better.”
• Matt Garza’s 7.1 innings without an earned run was the longest debut start by a Texas pitcher without an earned run since John Burkett in 1996. Garza, who was added on Monday, got a standing ovation as he left the mound in the eighth. “You’ve got to give him credit,” Gardner said. “He pounded the strike zone. He doesn’t waste many pitches. He gets ahead 0-2, 1-2 and doesn’t try to pitch around guys. He comes right after you.”
• The Yankees had a handful of scoring opportunities, and in a low-scoring game like this, a handful of opportunities might be enough if a team takes advantage. The first inning really stands out. “We have to take advantage of situations when we have runners on, because it’s not an offense that explodes for big innings,” Girardi said. “We have to take advantage every time. You get first and second, nobody out, first and third, one out, we’re not able to capitalize. But it happens.”
• Did there still seem to be a chance in the ninth, maybe another dramatic rally? “We had a shot, and the guy that hit the big triple off Nathan comes up with a runner on,” Girardi said. “We’ve got an opportunity maybe to tie the game if Nuney can get a hit or hit one in the seats. It didn’t happen.”
• Shawn Kelley allowed a solo home run in the eighth. It was his first earned run since June 15 and only his second since May 30. … Kelley also stranded two inherited runners in the seventh. He’s stranded 22 of 24 inherited runners this season.
• Derek Jeter came through his pregame work with no problem. “Pretty good,” Girardi said. “He’ll increase a little bit tomorrow, see how he does.”
• Final word goes to Pettitte: “I feel good. I can’t take nothing from it. When you lose you can’t take nothing from it. It’s a loss. We need wins. And it’s frustrating.”
Associated Press photo