Andy Pettitte gave the New York Yankees a Turn Back the Clock night.
Provided a one-run lead for much of the night, the 39-year-old left-hander put together a vintage performance in his second start following a one-year layoff. Pettitte pitched four-hit ball over eight innings Friday for his first regular season win since July 2010, leading the New York Yankees over the Cincinnati Reds 4-0.
“I felt like I could do this, and now it’s just like I feel like the mind’s getting back there,” a beaming Pettitte said after
his 241st win. “I’m just hoping and praying the body holds up.”
Making his second major league start since ending his one-year retirement, Pettitte (1-1) limited the young, free-swinging Reds to four singles. With a fastball that reached 90 mph, an excellent cutter and a sharp curve, he struck out nine and walked one, throwing 78 of 115 pitches for strikes.
“I miss the competition,” Pettitte said. “I guess I do miss this, from the standpoint of being around the team and stuff like that.”
Pettitte was given a 1-0 lead on Alex Rodriguez’s RBI grounder in the fourth. Robinson Cano homered against Bronson Arroyo (2-2) in the eighth and Raul Ibanez hit a two-run drive, his eighth homer of the season.
Not since July 8, 2008, had Pettitte pitched eight shutout innings.
“When I caught him, years and years ago, it was fastball, cutter and really curveball. He’s got so many more weapons to go to,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “I thought he could bring some stabilization to our rotation. And I think he’ll do that just because of who he is, his personality, his will, his focus. We are a different rotation with him.”
Pettitte had been 0-2 in five starts since winning at Seattle on July 8, 2010, five days before he pitched in the All-Star game. After missing much of the second half because of a groin strain, he beat Minnesota in Game 2 of the AL division series.
In all, Pettitte went 680 days between regular-season wins, the most for the Yankees since Carl Pavano’s 687 from May 22, 2005 to April 9, 2007, according to STATS LLC.
“He must have been doing something real good when he was retired,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “He looked as sharp as I’ve ever seen him.”
Cincinnati didn’t advance a runner past first base after the first inning.
“Even though he might not have quite the stuff that he used to, he tries to pitch smart, never really gets in a pattern and he made his pitches,” said Jay Bruce, who went 0 for 4 and struck out twice. “He was doing exactly what he wanted to do out there tonight, and we could never get anything going.”
In his first start, at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, Pettitte allowed four runs over 6 1/3 innings in a 6-2 loss to Seattle.
“I didn’t think I might have been a little up tight last game, but I just feel like I maybe wasn’t quite as relaxed as I need to
be,” Pettitte said.
Boone Logan pitched a perfect ninth, completing the four-hitter as the Yankees stopped a three-game losing streak with their second shutout this season.
New York went ahead when Rodriguez slapped a grounder to shortstop off Arroyo, not the pitcher’s glove, as he infamously did near first base in Game 6 of the AL championship series against Boston.
“I don’t think about it a whole lot,” Arroyo said. “If I would have thumped him with two outs and no one on base tonight,
then I’m sure it would have come to mind, because I’m sure he would have let me know. But I’m out there to battle and try to beat guys, and it’s always been like that for me. I don’t know Alex from a hole in the wall, so I can’t say if he thinks about it when I’m pitching. He’s done so many things in his career. I’m sure Bronson Arroyo is not the highest thing on the list.”
Cano doubled the lead with his fourth homer of the season, a drive deep into the right-field bleachers. Ibanez chased Arroyo after four runs and nine hits in 7 2-3 innings.
New York’s homers came after another night of struggles with runners in scoring position. The Yankees were 0 for 7, wasting a bases-loaded, no-outs threat in the sixth, and are hitless in 19 consecutive at-bats with runners in scoring position, dropping to 3 for their last 48 at-bats (.063).
Cincinnati, the first team since interleague play started in 1997 to play at the Mets and Yankees on consecutive days, got an early baserunner when Zack Cozart struck out leading off but the ball kicked off the glove of catcher Chris Stewart, who was catching Pettitte for the first time. Cozart wound up at second on the passed ball and a throwing error by Stewart, who wildly flung the ball well over first baseman Nick Swisher.
Cozart took third on Drew Stubbs’ sacrifice but was stranded when Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips struck out. After allowing Ryan Hanigan’s leadoff single in the third, Pettitte struck out the side.
“You knew that we’ve been struggling,” Pettitte said. “Like I tell these young guys, big league Ws are precious. … I feel like
what I do is pretty good, separating myself from others, mentally I feel like I’m extremely strong.”
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)