The Orioles of 2010 were not a good team. Not like today. But they had a decent offense. Brian Roberts was playing well. Luke Scott was having a career year. Matt Wieters was developing into a major league catcher and hitter and Nick Markakis and Adam Jones were good young players. Plus, Buck Showalter had taken over and the Orioles were playing good baseball and ESPN was calling the team the “Flying Showalters.” All but Scott were in the starting lineup against Andy Pettitte two years ago. Like today, no one knew what to expect from Pettitte coming back after being out since July 18, 2010. Pettitte had a brilliant first half and even made the All Star team that season with an 11-2 mark. So his injury really hurt…just like it did this season.
The first inning got off to a bumpy start. Pettitte was staked to a 1-0 lead as the Orioles’ starter, Chris Tillman was very wild that day. The Orioles took the run back off of Pettitte in the bottom of the first. Brian Roberts his a line drive single to left and promptly stole second. He went to third on an Andino fly out. Pettitte then induced Markakis to pop out meekly in the infield and had two outs and looked like he might be able to get out of the inning. But with two outs, Adam Jones put down a perfect bunt for a single that scored Roberts. It was small ball, but it tied the score.
Chris Tillman worked around a single by Austin Kearns to get through the top of the second without a problem. That was just about the only hit Kearns had for the Yankees that season. Okay, that is an exaggeration. Pettitte worked around a walk to Wieters in the bottom of the second. Tillman and Pettitte both worked 1-2-3 innings in the third, but then the Yankees got to Tillman in the fourth inning.
The Yankees would score two runs on a single and a bases loaded walk and ran Tillman from the game. They left the bases loaded (#RISPFail was alive then too it seems). The Yankees would not score the rest of the game as the Orioles bullpen shut them down the rest of the way. The Yankees walked nine times in the game and had eight hits and could only push home three runs. Ouch. But still, Pettitte was given a 3-1 lead and Pettitte kept it that way.
Andy Pettitte thrilled worried Yankee fans by retiring the Orioles in order for three straight innings from the fourth until the sixth. He pitched a gem: Six innings, three hits, one run, one walk, two strikeouts. You could not have asked more from a pitcher coming back from an injury. Unfortunately, Pettitte would not win the game.
Boone Logan surrendered a run in the seventh. Mariano Rivera had a brilliant 2010 season. And Rivera and Pettitte has set a record that season as the most games one closer ever saved for a starting pitcher. But Rivera could not get Pettitte the win in this one. Luke Scott got a hold of a Rivera cutter and hit a homer that tied the score and send the game into extra innings. David Robertson pitched a scoreless tenth but could not get an out in the eleventh and the Orioles had themselves a walk-off party.
But still, the game Pettitte threw had to be a great encouragement to the Yankees and their fans. But his next start brought back the worries. Pettitte was terrible. Pettitte faced the Red Sox and could not get out of the fourth inning. He gave up ten hits and seven runs, six of them earned as the Red Sox beat the Yankees and gave Pettitte his third loss of the season.
Pettitte would have one more tune-up start before the season ended. Again it was against the Red Sox and again, it did not go well. He gave up nine hits in four innings and allowed three runs. So again, there were great concerns with Pettitte heading into the playoffs that 2010 season. They ended up being misguided. Pettitte pitched twice in the playoffs. Both were terrific starts. In both, he went seven innings and gave up only two runs on five hits.
Ultimately, the season for the Yankees died against the Texas Rangers. But you cannot blame Andy Pettitte. He gave the team everything it needed in the playoffs.
To be sure, each season is different and this little memory tour of 2010 cannot really predict how Andy Pettitte pitches for the Yankees from here on out. The message it seems, though, is not to expect too much or be too worried about the results. If the Yankees get to the playoffs and Pettitte can maintain his health, he will be there for the team. He has done so his entire career. Of course, it will be great to see him on the mound tonight and it would be especially great if he pitches well.