Andy Pettitte basically made one mistake last night... one. He left a cutter over the middle of the plate and Texas' (and possibly the AL's) MVP hooked it over the short porch in rightfield. It was only the second inning, but with Cliff Lee on the mound, it felt like a grand-slam.
1. The sequence went: fastball, fastball, fastball, cutter.
Hamilton had swung through a fastball on pitch 3, yet Pettitte threw a cutter next (perhaps to try to induce the GIDP). With Hamilton having seen three fastballs, he was geared for one, yet being as good as he is, was able to adjust and hook the cutter over the wall. Just like a slider can speed up a hitter's bat after seeing a fastball (Mark Wohlers knows what I'm talking about), it happened last night, only with a cutter. It certainly didn't help that Pettitte left the cutter over the heart of the plate.
2. Like so many other big hits this postseason, it was preceded by a long AB: Michael Young singled on the ninth pitch he saw just before Hamilton stepped to the plate. He put together a gutty, gritty AB, making Andy throw fastballs, cutters and changeups. This may have helped Hamilton get a feel for Andy's arsenal.
3. Pettitte is known for his cutter, and he should be: It's been his best pitch throughout his career, worth more than a run above average per season. And in 2010, it's been even better than usual; in other words, every batter knows what pitch Pettitte relies upon, but most of them can't do much about it. Josh Hamilton is obviously a special hitter, and was able to not only hit the cutter, but hit it with authority.
4. What might really upset you is Andy's dominance against lefties this season. While he's never truly dominated lefties (relative to righties) in his career (.700 vs. 730 OPS), he was downright nasty in 2010. While RHB hit .283/.346/.434 vs. Pettitte this year, any success LHBs had was few and far between: .186/.226/.256. Perhaps the home run was partly a regression to the mean against LHB.
5. In Yankee Stadium, left-handed betters fare very well. Over two seasons now, LHB have OPS'ed .816 while RHB just .758. The short rightfield porch has helped many a LHB, and last night it was Josh Hamilton.
6. Hamilton has had his share of success against Pettitte in his career. He'd only faced the southpaw 10 times before last night, but didn't have a hit since 2009. Strangely, he homered in his first PA ever against Pettitte, but managed just two singles in the following nine PA.