Pettitte dominates Mariners for 250th career victory
Lefty reaches milestone on same day Yanks take his son, Josh, in Draft
SEATTLE -- Andy Pettitte has been quietly looking ahead to hitting the milestone of his 250th career victory, but the veteran Yankees left-hander never would have anticipated how memorable of a day it would turn out to be.
Pettitte learned that his son, Josh, was selected by the Yankees in the 37th round of the First-Year Player Draft, moments before the Yankees made the 40-year-old's vintage performance hold up in a 3-1 victory over the Mariners on Saturday at Safeco Field.
"It's all tied in together now for me," Pettitte said. "It's like I can't separate them because they're both together. It just all happened right here, and the game was ending, so it's just really cool."
Pettitte won his first career game on June 7, 1995, when Josh was 7 months old. Eighteen years and a day later, the proud papa surpassed Vic Willis for sole possession of 43rd place on the all-time wins list by permitting just three singles over 7 1/3 innings.
"Two-hundred and fifty wins, and a lot of postseason wins, too," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He's been a great Yankee, and when you talk about one of the all-time greats, that's what he has been. He has been a pleasure to play with and a pleasure to manage."
With Josh celebrating his graduation weekend from Deer Park (Texas) High School with a visit to Dad's place of work, Pettitte retired the first nine batters he faced, permitting hits only in the fourth and eighth innings.
"I felt like I got in a pretty good rhythm, and I felt like I was locating the ball well today," Pettitte said. "That's what I want to do; just want go out there and do my job and throw the ball well.
"It's kind of been a little bit of a grind here the last month, just not having a feel for everything, but I felt like I had a real good feel for all my pitches today and was locating them fairly well. Let's hold that right there for a while now."
Michael Morse's fourth-inning sacrifice fly accounted for the only run Seattle managed off Pettitte, who walked none and struck out six to pick up his fifth victory of the season.
"He did a nice job. We tried to make some adjustments and he adjusted right back," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "He's amazing. There are a couple guys over there that have had amazing careers and are still doing it at the highest level. He sees the game and has great awareness out there. And obviously, he still has the good stuff."
The Yankees scored three runs over 6 1/3 innings against Mariners starter Joe Saunders, never trailing in the contest and posting their fifth victory in their last six games.
Mark Teixeira rapped a first-inning double and scored on Robinson Cano's single to right field, giving Pettitte a quick lead. Jayson Nix drove home Ichiro Suzuki with a fifth-inning single to give New York the advantage again, marking the 11th game in his last 12 that Nix has hit safely.
"Nix has swung the bat really well for us," Girardi said. "It's great. That's why we put him in the two-hole against lefties, because he's done a really good job."
The Yankees tacked on a run in the seventh as Nix greeted reliever Danny Farquhar with a solid single to center field, driving home Brett Gardner with the final run charged to Saunders.
"To get us that tack-on run, the third one, is extremely important," Girardi said. "We've had contributions from guys all year long. You get them from Nixy today and it's important."
Girardi made a curious call to the bullpen in the eighth inning, replacing Pettitte with reliever David Robertson with one out and a runner on, even though Pettitte had only thrown 85 pitches.
Robertson did the job, escaping the inning, and Mariano Rivera entered to lock down his 22nd save in 23 opportunities -- the 71st instance where Rivera has preserved a victory for Pettitte, further extending their Major League record.
"That's wonderful. He pitched a tremendous game today," Rivera said. "Being able to be there for his 250th, that's special. I gave him the baseball, too. That's a great number. He has been there in tough games. He's been there for us."
Rivera joked that Pettitte now needs to hang on for another five or six years so he and his son can appear on a roster together; to that comment, Pettitte offered with a chuckle, "No chance."
But Pettitte's son summed up the afternoon as "a good day for the Pettittes," and as two generations of Pettittes walked out of Safeco Field on Saturday afternoon, the left-hander with more yesterdays than tomorrows in his baseball career could not have seemed more appreciative.
"It's cool. I feel very blessed being able to play this game as long as I have," Pettitte said. "To be able to be on this club, play with this team, play with so many great players, have Mo close out so many of these games -- it makes it so special because he's such a great friend. It's a good day."