Andy Pettitte is exactly who the New York Yankees want taking the mound tonight for Game 2 of the ALDS in Camden Yards. Riding the heels of CC Sabtathia‘s Game 1 gem, Pettitte, with nineteen career postseason victories, is the key to beating the reeling – albeit still very dangerous – Buck Showalter’s Baltimore Orioles.
Since mounting a comeback in late March, Pettitte has very good, pitching to the tune of a 2.87 ERA over 75.1 innings with his second highest K/9 rate of his career (8.2). Barring a freak ankle fracture in June, Pettitte probably would have stabilized the Yankees rotation during their near collapse in late August. But the ‘what ifs’ don’t matter anymore. So here we are—Game 2 is tonight, and the Yankees are up 1-0 with a return to the Bronx just over the horizon.
During his short stint as a regular in the Yankees rotation, Pettitte didn’t face the Orioles this season, so it’s pointless to see how’s he’s done in the past against the Birds, seeing that, aside from two regulars (Matt Wieters and Adam Jones), they have an entirely different lineup than the one Pettitte faced in 2010. What the Yankees can count on regardless of who Pettitte is facing is his ability to throw strikes and keep hitters off-balance by mixing his cutter, four-seamer, and off-speed stuff. The Orioles will also have a hard time stealing on Pettitte, who is the all-time MLB pickoff leader. A crafty lefty, for sure.
But Pettitte needs to remember that the 2012 Orioles are not the Orioles of old, even the Orioles of 2010, and have a new winning attitude under manager and franchise resurrector Showalter. They are a gritty team, with a penchant for big hits in the clutch and the offensive talent to put runs on the scoreboard with a well-balanced lineup and a deep bench.
Then again, we’re talking about Andy Pettitte here. What separates Pettitte from most postseason starting pitchers is his ability to dictate the tempo of games, maximize the pitch count, and work his way out jams with an arsenal of ground-ball-inducing pitches. Pettitte also has a ton of playoff experience and knows how to put his team in the position to win. It’s rare to see Pettitte get knocked out of a game early on, and with a workhorse attitude (not to mention this could be his last postseason. Again.), the Yankees are in good shape heading into Game 2 tonight. Don’t be surprised if Pettitte is able to pitch six or seven quality innings and stymie the Orioles aggressive offense.
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