10/25/2003 7:38 PM ET
Matchup: Pettitte vs. elimination
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By Doug Miller / MLB.com
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NEW YORK -- The Yankees had to take consolation in the fact that they were going into a do-or-die Game 6 of the World Series with the pitcher who has been there when they needed him the most all season and postseason: Andy Pettitte.
Pettitte faces elimination
The matchup: Andy Pettitte vs. elimination
The Yankees are not happy to be in the position of being down three games to two in the World Series, but they have a few things in their favor. Playing at home in what is sure to be a rocking Yankee Stadium is one.
Andy Pettitte is the other.
Pettitte has been the ultimate go-to guy for the Yankees this year. He was their only 20-game winner and was especially effective following a loss. Pettitte became the ultimate tourniquet, going 11-4 during the regular season and postseason in that situation, including his last nine in a row.
He's their guy on the hill in win-or-start-making-tee-times Game 6. At least the Yankees wouldn't want anybody else in this situation.
The expectation: Pettitte is up against a tough pitcher in 23-year-old Marlins starter Josh Beckett, but Pettitte has the big-game experience and absolutely toyed with the Marlins in Game 2.
Expect Pettitte to come out dealing and keep his team in the game. If the struggling Yankees offense can't come to his aid, New York will be in trouble. But don't be surprised to see Pettitte in control of the Marlins lineup.
The result: Pettitte did his job, holding down the Marlins' offense with seven clutch innings in which he gave up only two runs -- one unearned.
Pettitte labored a bit in the fifth and sixth innings, throwing 50 pitches in those two frames after throwing 49 through his first four frames, which were brilliant. Unfortunately for the left-hander, and the Yankees, the offense couldn't touch Beckett.
The bottom line is that Pettitte stood up to his challenge against elimination and the Yankees bats didn't.
Pettitte's postseason accomplishments dwarfed those of the Marlins' Saturday starter, 23-year-old Josh Beckett, who was pitching on three days' rest for the first time in his career.
Pettitte entered the game with a 3-0 record and a 2.30 ERA this October, with all of his wins following Yankees losses. He took Game 2 of the American League Division Series after the Yankees lost Game 1 to the Minnesota Twins, then won Game 2 of the AL Championship Series over Boston after the Yankees had lost that Game 1.
And in Game 2 of the World Series, Pettitte dominated the Marlins, preventing Florida from taking a 2-0 lead back home to Pro Player Stadium. Pettitte gave up one unearned run in 8 2/3 innings, striking out seven.
Even more impressive was his record this year in starts directly following Yankee losses. Pettitte was 11-4 in 2003 in those situations, with nine straight victories.
Unfortunately for Pettitte, Beckett was just a bit better Saturday.
Pettitte started out smoking, blowing the Marlins away through the first four innings, but there was Beckett, giving up less hits and striking out more batters.
Pettitte stalled a bit in the fifth and sixth innings, throwing more pitches in those two frames than he had in the previous four. The Marlins took advantage of three hits in the fifth to score their first run, then cashed in on a Derek Jeter error in the sixth to go up, 2-0.
That was all she wrote for the 2003 season with the way Beckett was putting away Yankee after Yankee. New York went 0-for-12 with runners on base.
Pettitte did his job Saturday night, but the rest of the Yankees didn't, and that's why the Fish are the ones swimming in champagne.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.