Pettitte keeps putting up zeroes
Just as he did five days earlier, Andy Pettitte pitched with a lot of runners on base Monday night at Minneapolis. And just as he did five days earlier, Pettitte made sure none of them scored.
It was another shutout effort for the lefthander after missing 11 weeks because of a fractured left fibula. Pettitte has put up a zero for each of those weeks – 11 scoreless innings in his two starts back. Buoyed by a 3-0, first-inning lead, Pettitte worked out of the jams he got himself into and notched another victory against the Twins, which is pretty common for him.
Things looked shaky in the first inning when Minnesota loaded the bases with one out, but Andy stunned Justin Morneau with a fastball on the outside corner for a called third strike and retired Ryan Doumit on a fielder’s choice. The Yankees supported Pettitte with two double plays to get out of innings, and his catcher, Russell Martin, made a sensational tag for an out at the plate after taking a strong throw from center fielder Curtis Granderson to end another inning.
Over six innings, Pettitte scattered seven hits and a walk and struck out three in improving his season record to 5-3 and earning his 245th career victory to tie Dennis Martinez for 49th place on the all-time list. He is undefeated over his last 12 starts against Minnesota (regular season and postseason combined) dating to May 2001 with a 10-0 record and a 2.53 ERS in 80 2/3 innings. Over his past 17 regular season and postseason starts against the Twins since 1999, Pettitte is 13-1 with a 2.38 ERA in 117 innings and has held them to three runs or fewer in 14 outings.
Now what is all this about Target Field being a tough place to hit home runs? Not for the Yanks. They pounded four of them, including three absolute moon shots, against Twins righthander Liam Hendricks and have clubbed 14 home runs in eight games at the Minneapolis yard that opened in 2010.
Nick Swisher got the home run derby going in the first inning with a two-run shot to right that measured 428 feet. Granderson went nearly 10 feet farther with his solo shot in the fourth that was his 40th home run of the season, one shy of his 2011 total. Granderson joined Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle and Jason Giambi as the only Yankees players to homer 40 times in consecutive seasons. It should be mentioned that the Babe did it eight times while the others did it once apiece.
Raul Ibanez continued his smoking hot streak with a drive into the second deck in right field leading off the seventh inning for his 18th home run. Eric Chavez homered to left (No. 14) two batters later. Ibanez has 7-for-12 (.583) with two doubles, three home runs and five RBI since breaking out of a 0-for-18 slump.
Ichiro Suzuki, last week’s American League Player of the Week, doubled his first time up, and Derek Jeter with a single in his final at-bat in the ninth inning extended his hitting streak to 18 games.
The Yankees also gained ground in the AL East standings over the Orioles, who divided a doubleheader against the Blue Jays at home. The Yankees’ lead is 1 ½ games (two in the loss column) as the magic number for clinching a postseason berth is down to four.