Pettitte makes postseason return tonight

Before announcing his surprise comeback in March, the last memory Yankee fans had of Pettitte was his strong performance in Game 3 of the 2010 ALCS. As per usual, Andy was very strong in that outing, holding the eventual American League champion Rangers to two runs on five hits in seven innings, though the Yankees would ultimately lose the game 8-0 as the offense was shut out by Cliff Lee and Neftali Feliz and the bullpen allowed Texas to blow the game open after Pettitte exited. Ultimate results aside, that would have been a fitting last impression of Pettitte in my mind, but as we later learned, it wasn’t how Pettitte ultimately wanted to go out.

For all of the ups and downs of this season, without question my favorite part of the year has been Pettitte’s return. It always bothered me that he went out with such a great performance, and with no solid indication that he wouldn’t be returning in 2011. Jorge Posada‘s final season might have been painful to watch at times, but at least there was a sense of finality to it, allowing you to really appreciate the moment and give him the farewell he deserved. With Pettitte, he was just…gone. So in that respect, the prospect of Pettitte returning for  a last hurrah felt like a great opportunity for the goodbye that never happened. Pettitte, however, was coming back for much more than just a curtain call, and he pitched better than I think anyone could have imagined he would, especially before fracturing his ankle at the end of June. That injury limited Pettitte’s 2012 workload to just 12 starts and 75 innings.

Now, however, it’s back to the playoffs, where Pettitte has most endeared himself to the Yankee faithful, and back to Camden Yards, where Pettitte has won more games than at any other stadium he’s not called home. There was some sentiment among Yankees fans that Pettitte should pitch Game 3 at home, given that he’ll only make one start in the ALDS, but instead he’ll serve as C.C. Sabathia‘s wingman. That does open up the possibility that Pettitte has pitched his last game at Yankee Stadium, but he certainly sounds as though he’s planning on coming back for at least one more tour in 2013. “I know one thing: I know the competition and the desire to compete is still there, and I don’t feel like I kind of got that itch out from the 70 innings or so that I threw this year,” he told reporters yesterday.

For now though, the focus is not on 2013, but the Orioles and Game 2. Pettitte’s comeback might have felt like a goodbye tour in March or May, but now it feels as though nothing has changed, and if Pettitte can earn his 20th postseason victory, the Yankees will head back to New York with a comfortable 2-0 lead over Baltimore. Most of all, his goal will be to keep the Yankees in the game against Wei-Yin Chen and the Orioles bullpen, something no one in baseball history has done as often as he has.

About Brien Jackson

Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

4 thoughts on “Pettitte makes postseason return tonight

  1. Good stuff…

    I'm thinking more big picture…. and i'm usually one who HATES the yammering about "legacies"… it's so stupid… but you can't help but realize the opportunity that Pettitte has in front of him

    Posada, sadly, is gone… Rivera, tragically, isn't here… obviously Jeter isn't going anywhere but he's the alpha and omega of Yankees in this era anyways…. Pettitte can move himself ahead of a lot of the other "core" yankees of this new 1996-current time period, i'm sure he doesn't care that much but i bet it means something to his kids

    • Hey, Jeter led the league in hits. That's pretty "alpha" in my book. If Pettitte wins tonight, it gives him a postseason record of 20-10, which conceptually is quite elegant (and yes, I know win percentage is overrated, but still, .667 against playoff-calibre teams is not shabby).

      • that's what i mean, jeter solidified his "alpha" status among yankees of this era but honestly, outside of he and rivera wouldn't Pettitte be number 3??

        Wouldn't a sixth title bump andy ahead of the likes of posada, bernie williams, and paul oneill?? it doesn't really matter, but i'd have to say yes

        • IMHO, he is already ahead of this era, less (of course) Mo & Jete regardless of what he does going forward.

          However, some will knock him for leaving as a FA after 2003…to me, it was a smart choice for him as the Astros wanted him and the Yankees didn't show interest.

          He could realistically end up with 25 postseason wins, or finish at 19. The former would add to his legacy, the later could dampen it a little bit. Either way, old 46 will be retired some day and finish short of the HoF by more than a few votes.