Pettitte tries to one-up the Phillies
All-time leader in postseason wins returns to World Series
PHILADELPHIA -- Few on the Yankees have received more press lately than the four members of the so-called core, the group that was around for each of the team's four World Series titles at the turn of the century.
Now, four years later, Pettitte will again start a World Series game, taking the mound for Game 3 of the Fall Classic in Philadelphia on Saturday night at 7:57 ET. And Pettitte's words that October -- "Whatever happened in the past won't matter once we get out there" -- should ring true once more.
- 2009 Regular Season
- Overall: 32 GS, 14-8, 4.16 ERA, 148 K, 76 BB.
- Overall: 32 GS, 10-11, 4.32 ERA, 168 K, 43 BB.
- Key stat: Allowed 193 H in 194 2/3 IP.
- Key stat: Opponents hit .273 off Hamels.
- 2009: 3 GS, 2-0, 2.37 ERA.
Career: 38 GS, 16-9, 3.83 ERA.
- 2009: 3 GS, 1-1, 6.75 ERA, 6 HR. Career: 9 GS, 5-2, 3.36 ERA.
- At CITIZENS BANK PARK
- 2009: No starts. Career: 2 GS, 1-0, 0.75 ERA.
- 2009: 17 GS, 7-5, 3.76 ERA. Career: 56 GS, 27-17, 3.43 ERA.
- Against this opponent
- 2009: 1 GS, 0-0, 5.14 ERA. Career: 7 GS, 2-2, 3.67 ERA.
- 2009: 1 GS, 0-0, 3.00 ERA. Career: 2 GS, 0-1, 2.77 ERA.
- Loves to face: Jayson Werth, 1-for-13, 5K.
Hates to face: Carlos Ruiz, 2-for-3, HR.
- Loves to face: Alex Rodriguez, 0-for-4.
Hates to face: Johnny Damon, 3-for-5, 2B.
- Game breakdown
- Why he'll win: Poise in the postseason.
- Why he'll win: More comfortable at home.
- Pitcher beware: Roughed up by PHI in May.
- Pitcher beware: Yielded 6 HRs in 3 playoff starts.
- Bottom line: Another World Series memory?
- Bottom line: Can he keep it in the yard?
"I will take the same approach no matter what," said Pettitte, whose Yankees are now tied in the series, 1-1, thanks to the strong pitching of A.J. Burnett and Rivera in Game 2. "I just try to simplify it, whether it's a clincher, whether we'd been down, 2-0. I can't do anything else except go out and make my pitches. I can't really control anything other than that, so why worry about it?"
That's not to say, though, that Pettitte won't be able to draw on his past successes.
As much as ever this season, Pettitte is in a groove. In all three of his postseason outings, he has pitched 6 1/3 innings, never allowing more than three runs or fewer than one. Most importantly for Pettitte, the control problems that have plagued him at times this season have vanished -- over his first three postseason outings, he has struck out 15 batters and walked just three.
In his last start, Game 6 of the American League Championship Series against the Angels, Pettitte allowed one run on seven hits, striking out six.
"What can you say about him?" Jeter said after that pennant-clinching victory. "He's a guy you want to see on the mound in that situation. He's pitched in every big game. He's had a lot of success. You never see him fazed by anything. We have a lot of confidence in him."
Though Pettitte's low-velocity offerings don't strike quite the same fear in Philadelphia's lefty sluggers as CC Sabathia's pitches do, Pettitte has handled that group just fine. Ryan Howard is just 1-for-9 in his career off Pettitte, who has been markedly better on the road this season than at home. Chase Utley is 1-for-7 off him, and Raul Ibanez, the best of the bunch, is 6-for-21.
Pettitte has not pitched at Citizens Bank Park since 2006, but he did hold the Phillies to four runs over seven innings in an Interleague no-decision at Yankee Stadium in May, and his 3.71 ERA on the road this season was markedly better than his 4.59 mark at home.
"I just feel like I get in a pretty good zone ... no matter how loud or how hostile it is," Pettitte said. "I'm able to just tune everything out and I'm able to usually just focus on one thing, and that's trying to make pitches. I think some guys have a harder time doing that. They let things get in their head or distract them a little bit. I feel fortunate I've been able to do that, just been able to block stuff out."
Even if Pettitte knew nothing of the Phillies, his teammates would have reason for confidence. In beating the Angels on Sunday, Pettitte passed John Smoltz to become Major League Baseball's all-time leader in postseason victories with 16, also becoming the all-time leader in series-clinching wins with five.
Pettitte will not have an opportunity to clinch anything in Philadelphia. But the Yankees will be looking to him to help them gain an advantage in this best-of-seven World Series. Game 3 is now the critical one -- someone will come out of it with a lead, and the Yankees are crossing their fingers it will be them.
"We have to go there and play like we're capable," Rivera said.
Pettitte, meanwhile, will have an opportunity to win yet again -- and in the World Series, that's opportunity enough.
"It's unbelievable," Pettitte said. "To be able to say that I'm going to my eighth World Series, a lot of the guys are asking me, 'How many this is?' and stuff like that. I don't even know what to say about it, just that I feel very fortunate, and I think we all feel very blessed to be able to have this opportunity. I just feel real good about that."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.