In the 14 seasons Andy Pettitte has been a major league pitcher, he has gone through his fair share of important postseason games. Just this postseason, Pettitte became the pitcher who has won the most postseason games ever.
That got me thinking – this must not be Andy Pettitte’s first time in a world series clinching game. It turns out, he is quite the veteran at these games – unfortunately he is not the winningest pitcher ever in these games. Dating back to his second World Series in 1998, Pettitte has appeared in clinching games 3 times, compiling a 1-1 record.
In 1998, the Yankees were facing off against the San Diego Padres. After sweeping the first two games in the Bronx, the Yankees had a comeback victory in Game 3 in San Diego and Pettitte pitched a shutout to lead the Bombers to victory in Game 4 and a World Series sweep.
In 2000, Pettitte was again trusted with the opportunity to win the series in a Game 5 start against the crosstown Mets in a World Series-Subway Series. Despite pitching well and holding the Mets to only 2 earned runs, Pettitte got the no decision as the Yankees rallied in the top of the ninth against Mets ace Al Leiter to score 2 runs and win 4-2.
Fast-forward a year later to Game 6 of the 2001 World Series in Arizona. Less than 2 months removed from the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Yankees were the favored team to win and give some pride and cheer back to an injured New York City. This is the last series to have gone 7 games. The home team won every game in this series. Arizona took the first two in Phoenix, the Yankees the next 3 in the Bronx, leading to a clinching game for the Yankees back in Arizona.
Pettitte took the mound for the second time in the series in Game 6, having lost Game 2 by allowing 4 runs compared to a Randy Johnson shutout. In Game 6, the Diamondback hitters were all over the Yankee pitching and tore up Pettitte for 6 earned runs in the first two innings. They went onto win 15-2 and clinch the series with a Game 7 win after an inconceivable blown save by Mariano Rivera.
That’s his history and I think it is a positive one. I have always felt that statistics are only a compilation of what someone has done in the past – they are not necessarily a road map to what is going to happen now or in the future. So I don’t care how well or horribly someone may have pitched 8 years ago.
Instead, I would look at these stats as proof that Andy Pettitte is familiar with the pressure of game-winning situations. That experience, coupled with his domination this postseason gives the Yankees a great chance of winning tonight.
UPDATE: It would be wrong of me not to pop back on and update with the news that Andy Pettitte is 5-2 in postseason series clinching games.