A stopper in baseball is the guy who comes in and puts things right. He stops the losing the streak, gets the team feeling good about themselves. Andy Pettitte has been that guy throughout his Yankees career and he was again tonight. Jason Giambi assisted him with a pair of home runs in the Yankees important 6-1 win over the Detroit Tigers at the Stadium.
Pettitte's (10-7) career numbers, coming into the game, showed a 3.38 ERA in August, his best month to pitch in. The Yankees needed another strong performance to end a 3 game losing streak. Pettitte gave them just that. He threw 8 masterful innings, limiting the Tigers to a run on 5 hits. Joba Chamberlain pitched a scoreless 9th that included a strike out of Ivan Rodriguez with back-to-back filthy sliders. But this game was about the young phenom on the rise. The old, by baseball terms, master was at his best. Pettitte's fastball was no better than 90 mph, but his mix of cutters, sliders, off-speed pitches, and cunning, beat the Tigers down.
Detroit took a 1-0 lead in the 3rd when Ryan Rayburn singled and scored on Brandon Inge's double. But after walking Curtis Granderson, Pettitte struck out rookie Cameron Maybin, who was making his major league debut, and retired Gary Sheffield on a ground out. Just as the night before, Sheffield was soundly booed every time up.
The Yankees came right back in their half of the 3rd with some big help from the Yankee Stadium infield. Robinson Cano and Andy Phillips started the inning with singles, but Tigers starter Nate Robertson retired Johnny Damon and Derek Jeter to leave it up to Bobby Abreu. Abreu hit a routine grounder to short for what should have been the 3rd out, but maybe Phil Rizzuto was hanging out on his old stomping grounds. The ball suddenly took a bad hop as hit the dirt in front of shortstop Carlos Guillen and bounded over his head for an RBI single (HOLY COW White!). Alex Rodriguez made the hop even more valuable when he followed with a ground-rule double to left to score Phillips for a 2-1 lead. Robertson (7-10) intentionally walked Jorge Posada to load the bases and then induced Hideki Matsui into an inning ground out.
In the 4th, Giambi hit his 1st of 2 shots, a blast to deep right-center, just to the right of the darkened bleachers. Phillips doubled in a pair of insurance runs in the 6th to help round out Robertson's night. Giambi put an exclamation point on the win with a mammoth upper deck shot in the 8th off Aqualino Lopez. It was Giambi's 11th home run of the season and his 1st multi-homer game in nearly a year (August 20, 2006). Then it was time for Pettitte to watch one of his apprentices finish off his masterpiece.
Since Johnny Damon had good career numbers against Nate Robertson, he got the start in center with Melky Cabrera replacing him for defense in the 9th.
Jason Giambi is now 7-13 lifetime against Robertson.
Cameron Maybin had an auspicious debut, going 0-4 with 2 strikeouts, and ran a poor route in left field on Phillips' 2-run double. He might have caught up to the ball if he had headed back on an angle instead of straight across.
Andy Pettitte is now 4-0, 2.25 this month. The victory was the 196th of his career.
Hideki Matsui's 6th inning single extended his hitting streak to 11 games.
A Friday night game on Channel 9? Of course it rained. The delay was nearly an hour and a half.
photos courtesy of AP