MINNEAPOLIS -- He used to be a lock for any Game 2 assignment, but Andy Pettitte is now the man for Sunday's Game 3 of the American League Division Series, with a chance to close out the Twins and move onto the AL Championship Series. All of which is just fine by the Yankees.
"Andy's a guy that we look forward to being on the mound," shortstop Derek Jeter said. "I've seen him for a long time. I'm used to seeing him pitch in big games and having a lot of success in those games."
Quite simply, Pettitte's postseason resume is one of the best in the game today. He is 14-9 with a 3.96 ERA over 35 postseason starts. In his lone October outing against the Twins, back in 2003, Pettitte struck out 10 batters over seven innings of one-run ball.
Most recently, he fired 6 1/3 shutout innings in an eventual Division Series loss to the Indians back in 2007.
"Big games don't seem to get Andy rattled," manager Joe Girardi said. "His focus seems to even get greater."
"I'm not saying that he's always going to have success," Jeter said, "but you know what to expect from him and that he's not going to be overwhelmed by any situation. For the most part, he gives us an opportunity to win."
That includes against the Twins. In his lone start against Minnesota this season, on May 18, Pettitte was hardly spectacular, allowing four runs in 6 2/3 innings. But he kept the Yankees in that game, one that they eventually won, 7-6.
And that, of course, was the second game of the series.
Throughout the Yankees' remarkable run of success in the late 1990s, Pettitte was the club's go-to No. 2 pitcher, a role he nearly reclaimed thanks to A.J. Burnett's inconsistency and the left-hander's own strong run down the stretch this season. Not since a Game 1 assignment in the 2005 National League Championship Series with the Astros has Pettitte debuted in a series in a game other than Game 2. With the Yankees, he hasn't done so since he started Game 1 of the 2001 ALCS in Seattle, a move necessitated by a five-game ALDS against the A's.
This time, though, manager Joe Girardi's rotation is set to his liking, and Pettitte will pitch Game 3 due in large part to his success on the road. Just a 6-4 pitcher with a 4.59 ERA at Yankee Stadium this season, Pettitte is 8-4 with a 3.71 ERA away from home. For his career, he is 5-4 with a 3.62 ERA at the Metrodome and 36-19 with a 3.21 mark indoors.
"It's always a tough place to come and play," Pettitte said. "It's loud. [The Twins] use home-field advantage extremely well, and they always play us tough here, so we know it's going to be a tough series. Hopefully, we can take care of our business and be able to get a win and be able to move on."
A win and move on -- that's all New York needs. If Pettitte can win, he will close out the AL Central champs in a sweep, giving the Yankees plenty of time to rest before an ALCS date with either the Angels or Red Sox. If not, he will allow the Twins to creep back in the series, giving them a chance to even up the series and send it back to New York with just one additional victory.
"You realize the importance of trying to go ahead and close it out, because you don't want to give them any momentum at all," Pettitte said. "But as far as my approach, it will be the same -- just try to go out there, try to get in a good rhythm, try to get myself going and try to give us a solid start and give us a chance to win the ballgame."
Pettitte is steady, which makes him boring -- which is just fine by the Yankees. And so perhaps Game 3's most compelling storyline will revolve instead around Twins starter Carl Pavano, who spent scant parts of four seasons in New York from 2005-08. The Yankees, who faced Pavano twice already this season when he was with the Indians, will be looking to defeat the man they paid $39.95 million to win nine games over that span.
"Pav was here for a long time," Jeter said. "I know he had a lot of people talking about him. The thing with Pavano is he's got great stuff. He just didn't pitch when he was here. He pitched well against us this year, I believe. His whole thing has always been his health. When he's healthy, he knows how to pitch."
"I have got a great relationship with Carl," Pettitte said. "I hated that things worked out the way that they had in New York before I got there. But I am just happy for him, happy for him that he is here now and things are a little bit different.
"He is healthy -- he stayed healthy this year -- and I'm happy to see that he has put together a good year, and hopefully, he will continue to pitch well in his career."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.