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ALDS Game 2: Pettitte, Mo, Same As It Ever Was

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Andy Pettitte in ALDS Game 2: A pro rises to the occasion. (AP)

After the last out of tonight's game, Pinstriped Bible-Study member Jay Jaffe tweeted, "Pettite with a brilliant start, Rivera with the save. Same as it ever was." Tonight, everything went according to plan. Andy Pettitte, who had seemed to be still feeling his way through an autumn-flavored, pumpkins and apple cider spring training rerun, rose to the occasion with an 88-pitch outing in which he had excellent control, made only a couple of mistakes, and overcame some tight situations. Had he not pitched well, it would have been understandable. Instead, he added another highlight to his already-tremendous career record.

The relievers followed the script. With Pettitte going seven, Joe Girardi didn't have to mess around with his spot lefty, the bombs away! inconsistency of Joba Chamberlain, or Dave Robertson's wildness. He went right to Kerry Wood, who continues to make Brian Cashman look brilliant by doing a complete 180 from his earlier work in Cleveland. The Yankees have an option on Wood for next year, but at a pricey $11 million. It seems unlikely the Yankees will bite at that price, which means that other teams will have the opportunity to offer Wood closer money to save games. Let us hope Wood does not follow his wallet; he was not a great closer, even at his best (2008) but setting up seems to suit him.

Mariano Rivera's inning was uneventful, just how the Yankees would have wanted it, but it did contain one highlight: Rivera facing Joe Mauer, one certain Hall of Famer against one likely Hall of Famer-- Mauer is probably about halfway there, if not more than that, being only 27 and already having seven seasons in, three batting titles among them. Rivera made what seemed like a good pitch in on Mauer's hands, but Mauer was able to fight it off and hit it solidly to left field for a single. No harm done, but a snapshot moment.

As for the offense, Kevin Long will get a great deal of credit, much of it deserved, for the work he's done with his hitters this season. Having said that, it is worth knowing that this is a talented, veteran lineup, and they had all accomplished great things in the past. As Bill James once pointed out, Ty Cobb used to take credit for tutoring Hall of Famer Al Simmons (and Simmons would credit Cobb), but Simmons hit .308, .387, and .341 before he and Cobb got together. Like Cobb, Long is working with the gifted class. He has done fine work with them, but these old hands also deserve credit for being open to his ideas.

It was a straightforward game, with a few dramatic moments for Pettitte, but otherwise lacking in movement and maneuver. Ron Gardenhire had issues with the umpiring, but the fact is that the Twins didn't hit, and Gardenhire made another unforced error, letting Pavano stay in the game too long, just as he let Francisco Liriano linger the night before. When you start blaming others for your own failings, you've lost your dignity, if not the battle.

That said, as the Yankees well know from 2004, it ain't over 'til it's over. To win it in three, Phil Hughes will have to keep the ball in the park and the hitters must successfully grapple with southpaw Brian Duensing, a groundballing, put-it-in-play type who can do only one thing that Hughes can't—keep the ball away from the fences. He was also pure hell on left-handed hitters this year, holding them to .162/.217 /.239 with one home run in 153 plate appearances. I know Girardi is now committed to Curtis Granderson as an everyday player, but if there are two outs and two on in the fifth and the Yankees are trailing against Duensing, he might want to think about a pinch-hitter. Then again, the pinch-hitter would probably be Austin Kears or Greg Golson, so he might be better off sticking with Grandy.

ALDS Game 2: Pettitte, Mo, Same As It Ever Was

After the last out of tonight's game, Pinstriped Bible-Study member Jay Jaffe tweeted, "Pettite with a brilliant start, Rivera with the save. Same as it ever was." Tonight, everything went according to plan. Andy Pettitte, who had seemed to be still feeling his way through an autumn-flavored, pumpkins and apple cider spring training rerun, rose to the occasion with an 88-pitch outing in which he had excellent control, made only a couple of mistakes, and overcame some tight situations. Had he not pitched well, it would have been understandable. Instead, he added another highlight to his already-tremendous career record.

The relievers followed the script. With Pettitte going seven, Joe Girardi didn't have to mess around with his spot lefty, the bombs away! inconsistency of Joba Chamberlain, or Dave Robertson's wildness. He went right to Kerry Wood, who continues to make Brian Cashman look brilliant by doing a complete 180 from his earlier work in Cleveland. The Yankees have an option on Wood for next year, but at a pricey $11 million. It seems unlikely the Yankees will bite at that price, which means that other teams will have the opportunity to offer Wood closer money to save games. Let us hope Wood does not follow his wallet; he was not a great closer, even at his best (2008) but setting up seems to suit him.

Mariano Rivera's inning was uneventful, just how the Yankees would have wanted it, but it did contain one highlight: Rivera facing Joe Mauer, one certain Hall of Famer against one likely Hall of Famer-- Mauer is probably about halfway there, if not more than that, being only 27 and already having seven seasons in, three batting titles among them. Rivera made what seemed like a good pitch in on Mauer's hands, but Mauer was able to fight it off and hit it solidly to left field for a single. No harm done, but a snapshot moment.

As for the offense, Kevin Long will get a great deal of credit, much of it deserved, for the work he's done with his hitters this season. Having said that, it is worth knowing that this is a talented, veteran lineup, and they had all accomplished great things in the past. As Bill James once pointed out, Ty Cobb used to take credit for tutoring Hall of Famer Al Simmons (and Simmons would credit Cobb), but Simmons hit .308, .387, and .341 before he and Cobb got together. Like Cobb, Long is working with the gifted class. He has done fine work with them, but these old hands also deserve credit for being open to his ideas.

It was a straightforward game, with a few dramatic moments for Pettitte, but otherwise lacking in movement and maneuver. Ron Gardenhire had issues with the umpiring, but the fact is that the Twins didn't hit, and Gardenhire made another unforced error, letting Pavano stay in the game too long, just as he let Francisco Liriano linger the night before. When you start blaming others for your own failings, you've lost your dignity, if not the battle.

That said, as the Yankees well know from 2004, it ain't over 'til it's over. To win it in three, Phil Hughes will have to keep the ball in the park and the hitters must successfully grapple with southpaw Brian Duensing, a groundballing, put-it-in-play type who can do only one thing that Hughes can't—keep the ball away from the fences. He was also pure hell on left-handed hitters this year, holding them to .162/.217 /.239 with one home run in 153 plate appearances. I know Girardi is now committed to Curtis Granderson as an everyday player, but if there are two outs and two on in the fifth and the Yankees are trailing against Duensing, he might want to think about a pinch-hitter. Then again, the pinch-hitter would probably be Austin Kears or Greg Golson, so he might be better off sticking with Grandy.