The Yankees won the rubber game of this three-game series against the Oakland A’s, 4-1, on a “grand slam” by “birthday boy” Hideki Matsui, in the 6th inning, off A’s starter, Joe Blanton. The four runs were all that Andy Pettitte needed to earn his 6th win of the season.
Pettitte struggled early, but got stronger as the game moved on. Andy pitched a solid 8 innings, throwing 113 pitches, allowing one run, on 5 hits, one walk, and 6 strikeouts, to move his record to, 6-5. The victory was Pettitte’s 170 career Yankee win, tying him with Ron Guidry for fourth place on the all-time Yankee win list. Whitey Ford is number one on the list with 236 career wins.
The 6th inning rally started with an infield single by Derek Jeter. Then both Bobby Abreu and Alex Rodriguez walked, to load the bases with no outs. This set-up the “birthday blast” by Matsui, which turned a 1-0 Oakland lead into a 4-1 Yankees victory.
At the start of the bottom of the 9th, it looked like we would see a very rare occurrence in baseball these days: the complete game. Andy Pettitte came out of the dugout, and threw his warm-up pitches, as if he was going to pitch the final inning for the complete game win. But, after Andy finished warming-up, Joe Girardi approached the mound, and made the call to the bullpen for closer, Mariano Rivera.
Even though he had already thrown 113 pitches, I’m sure Pettitte wanted to pitch the 9th inning. It would have been very refreshing to see the “rare” complete game. But, as Girardi said, he wanted to give Mariano a little more time to warm up before enterning the game. So, I guess the starting pitcher would have to be pitching at least a shutout, no-hitter, or perfect game for any chance at getting a complete game. Even then, I’m not so sure a shutout or a no-hitter would totally guarantee the pitcher staying in the game.
The “Great Mariano” was awesome as usual, closing out the 4-1 win, for his 18th save. Mariano is now a perfect 18 for 18 in save opportunties.
This was a big win for the Yankees! [aren’t they all big wins, though?] …
After winning the first game in this series, 3-1, led by a beautiful pitching performance by Chien-Ming Wang; and, losing the second game, 8-4, in a game that Darrell Rasner had his worst start since joining the starting rotation; this 4-1 win by Andy Pettitte, moved the Yankees back over the .500 mark to 34-33.
The Yankees now head to Houston, to play a three-game weekend series against the Astros.
Joba Chamberlain is the Yankees starting pitcher in the first game of this series on Friday night, June 13th.