05/01/10 12:22 AM ET
Far from perfect, Pettitte plenty gritty
Veteran southpaw settles in for Yankees after rough first
By Tim Britton / MLB.com
It's hard to even say that first inning was the result of poor pitching from Pettitte. Leadoff hitter Alexei Ramirez fought off an 0-2 fastball and blooped it over Robinson Cano's head for a single. Gordon Beckham followed suit, blooping a single to right on a 1-2 count.
After a flyout from Alexis Rios, Pettitte got ahead of Paul Konerko 0-2, and threw arguably his worst pitch of the season: an attempted backdoor cutter that ended up in the right-field seats.
"I tried a backdoor cutter to freeze him, and as hot as he is, I had to bury that pitch," Pettitte said, chiding himself. "It was right where I wanted to throw it, but it's a stupid, stupid pitch at that point in time."
Four batters, three two-strike counts, three White Sox runs. Chicago added a fourth run on a sacrifice fly in the second, needing only 11 batters to equal the four runs Pettitte had yielded in his first 28 innings this season. That quartet of runs came even though 30 of Pettitte's 40 pitches in the first two innings were for strikes.
"In that first inning, I was putting the ball pretty much right where I wanted to," Pettitte said. "They came in with a decent game plan against me, and it took me a little while to figure out."
Those first two innings were an anomaly in Pettitte's otherwise stellar April, and his subsequent four frames showed why.
Pettitte retired the White Sox in order in three of his last four innings, allowing only a Beckham single in the fifth. He and catcher Francisco Cervelli made the adjustment to throw more fastballs in to prevent Chicago from sitting on his softer stuff and to keep the White Sox off balance.
"They were sitting on breaking balls, and he started to throw fastballs in and try to move them a little bit," Cervelli said. "We talk between innings all the time and try to make adjustments quick, and we did it. He's a veteran, and he knows how to do that."
Even after a 26-pitch first, Pettitte was able to complete six innings for the fifth time in five starts this season and ninth out of 10 dating back to last postseason.
"He settled in a little bit and had a little bit better command as the game went on," manager Joe Girardi said. "I thought he did an outstanding job to give us those six innings, because he had to work really hard the first two."
Pettitte closed the night with 97 pitches, allowing season highs of four runs and seven hits -- numbers that say more about the quality of his other starts than the lack of it on Friday. His ERA jumped from 1.29 to 2.12, still good for seventh in the league.
"I'm just thankful the team came back and overcame that," Pettitte said. "It was a good win for us."
Tim Britton is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.