On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, it was Andy Pettitte Day in the Bronx. And as easy at it would be to copy and paste yesterday’s story with today’s (who says there’s not a perfect formula for a ceremony?), I promise to be as original as I can. Look, I readily admit that the stars of the most recent dynasty are some of my favorite recent players. Andy Pettitte easily being on that list for so many reasons, the least of which being how good of a player he was. And so it was an honor to see him join his teammates and other Yankee legends in Monument Park, memorialized for generations to come as one of those great guys who wore the pinstripes. (More on the ceremony following the recap.)
It was a former Pettitte teammate that took the mound this afternoon, CC Sabathia, and had he not had a recurring issue with an old injury, the entire day could have had an entirely different outcome. Sabathia threw 55 pitches into the 3rd inning (that’s a lot, by the way), giving up 4 hits, 2 runs, and 4 walks, and striking out just 1. In the 1st, a ground-rule double scored on a 2-out 2-run home run to start the run-scoring today.
Then after getting 2 outs in the 3rd, Sabathia’s day was done, his knee pain getting the better of him. He has a history of knee issues, including time spent on the DL as recently as last year. Coming off the field, he was sent to treatment and will be examined and sent for more tests under the supervision of the team doctor Dr. Ahmad.
Nick Rumbelow came on in relief for Sabathia to close out the 3rd and throw into the 5th inning. In the 5th, Rumbelow found the most trouble of this outing. The lead-off batter reached on a throwing error, moving to 3rd on a single. Then in a beautiful play (probably my favorite one of the day), the next batter flied out to Brett Gardner who then fired it back in directly to the waiting Murphy for the out at home. Just a perfect double play.
After Rumbelow intentionally walked the next batter, the Yankees brought Branden Pinder who promptly issued consecutive walks to first load the bases and then walk in a run, before getting out of that inning and pitching into the 7th inning. Chasen Shreve came on in relief of Pinder in the 7th for a nice strikeout and move onto the strong, closing end of the bullpen.
In the mean time, the Yankees battled the Indians pitching staff most of the day. The Yankees found an offensive opening in the 3rd. Ellsbury led-off with a single, stole 2nd, moved to 3rd on a fly out, and then scored when Brett Gardner stole 2nd base, successfully beating the throw, an error that opened the door for Ellsbury to easily make it home. That stolen base was Gardner’s 200th stolen base in his career; this made Gardner the 6th Yankee to do so in franchise history.
And the Yankees were on the board. In the 7th, Drew led-off with a walk and moved to 3rd on Ellsbury’s 1-out double; they both scored on Carlos Beltran’s 2-out ground-rule double to tie up the game.
Then Dellin Betances came on in relief of Shreve in the 8th. His lead-off batter walked but then was caught stealing 2nd. This proved rather fortuitous as the next batter got a solo home run off Betances (odd trivia: the batter is the first lefty to hit a home run off Betances in his career). Betances then got consecutive strikeouts to end the 8th, but the damage was done. The Yankees weren’t able to concoct any further runs, and Justin Wilson’s 9th just kept the Indians from adding to their 1-run lead.
Look, there were a ton of great defensive plays by the Yankees today once again. But the real problem was the whopping 10 walks the Yankee pitchers gave up (though to be fair, the Indians pitchers gave up 6 walks of their own). That many walks usually makes me question one of two things — either the weakness of control on the pitchers’ side of things or the dimensions of the strike zone. And due to the outcome for the Yankees, I’d rather place the blame on the umpires. It’s an easy out, sure, but when things don’t turn out your desired way, you take what you can.
Final score in the Bronx: 4-3 Indians, Indians win the series 3-1.
#46 is now permanently memorialized in Monument Park, to match the sentiment in most Yankee hearts. And like yesterday, the packed crowd at Yankee Stadium was treated to a wonderful trip down memory lane as Pettitte, with his family unveiled his #46 beyond center field. And as if repeating yesterday’s guest list, then a host of former teammates and mentors joined the Pettitte family on the field for the rest of the ceremony (Gene Michaels, Gene Monahan, Reggie Jackson, Scott Brosius, David Cone, Hideki Matsui, Paul O’Neill, Joe Torre, Tino Martinez, Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, and Jorge Posada).
Pettitte and his wife Laura unveiled his Monument Park plaque. Then Mariano Rivera presented Pettitte with a signed base from the day, Joe Girardi (who also caught for Pettitte) gave him a framed replica of his MP plaque, Hal Steinbrenner brought a framed replica of his retired number, and Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal gifted him with a personalized ring with his #46 to commemorate his career and this day. Once the gifts and honors were over, Andy Pettitte got a chance to thank the team and Yankees organization, even the press, his friends, his family, and of course the fans for the day and his career. He also shared his appreciation of being able to share the weekend with his friend and teammate Jorge Posada, which just seemed to make it so much more special for them both.
Pettitte spent 15 seasons in pinstripes, the all-time leader in strikeouts with 2020, and the only Yankees pitcher drafted by the Yankees to win 200 games. He’s known for the “Pettitte stare” and his nasty pick-off move, the number of amazing postseason games and the way he set-up a great save for teammate Mariano Rivera, his fierce competitiveness and his drive, his leadership in the clubhouse, his friendship with his teammates, and his passion for his family. (Side note: congratulations to Josh Pettitte and his new bride Kaitlyn on their marriage last weekend.)
Right before the game, Pettitte threw out the ceremonial first pitch to (who else, really?) his former catcher and still good friend Jorge Posada. The 2 retired guys looked like they were playing catch — Pettitte throwing from in front of the mound, Posada just hanging out at home plate with a borrowed glove (Murphy’s, by the way). A very different look than #46 atop the mound to #20 squatting behind home plate we know so well. But I’m guessing the nice suits on a warm day in the Bronx had something to do with their choice of action here. That, and that neither of them have actually played ball in a few years now.
Trivia fun fact: apparently, the Yankees love to memorialize on this day in history. Last year, the Yankees retired No. 6 for Joe Torre. And in 2003, they retired No. 49 for Ron Guidry. (Not bad company, Mr. Pettitte.)