Extra rest nothing new for Pettitte

Extra rest nothing new for Pettitte

NEW YORK -- Andy Pettitte was just about to begin his pregame routine Saturday when the news filtered in that Game 6 of the American League Championship Series had been postponed, with a makeup scheduled for Sunday at 8:20 p.m. ET.

Pettitte cringed at the thought of spending another entire day lying in wait, but could do nothing. And so the veteran pitcher went to the outfield, ran a series of sprints in the rain, changed out of his rain-soaked clothes and began preparing for another day in wait.

"This was the longest day ever," Pettitte said. "It's just frustrating from the standpoint that it's such a long day when you're so ready and so anxious to get the game going."

Tale of the Tape: Game 6
2009 Regular Season
Overall: 14-8, 32 GS, 4.16 ERA, 76 BBs, 148 Ks
Overall: 16-7, 31 GS, 4.60 ERA, 64 BBs, 101 Ks.
Key stat: 231 career postseason innings pitched.
Key stat: 2.57 ERA in postseason this year.
Postseason
Career: 15-9, 37 GS, 3.90 ERA, 62 BBs, 148 Ks
Career: 0-0, 2 GS, 4.63 ERA, 5 BBs, 7 Ks
At new Yankee Stadium
2009: 6-4, 16 GS, 4.59 ERA, 38 BBs, 74 Ks
Career: 6-4, 16 GS, 4.59 ERA, 38 BBs, 74 Ks
2009: No appearances in regular season.
Career: No appearances in regular season.
Against this opponent
2009: 0-2, 2 GS, 7.88 ERA, 8 BBs, 6 Ks
Career: 12-10, 45 GS, 4.38 ERA, 87 BBs, 214 Ks
2009: 1-0, 2 GS, 4.72 ERA, 2 BBs, 6 Ks
Career: 2-1, 5 GS, 6.28 ERA, 10 BBs, 19 Ks
Loves to face: Kendry Morales, 0-for-5, 1 K
Hates to face: Erick Aybar, 7-for-16, 2 RBIs
Loves to face: Mark Teixeira, 2-for-16, 1 K
Hates to face: Alex Rodriguez, 7-for-14, 2 HRs
Game breakdown
Why he'll win: Postseason experience
Why he'll win: Pitched well at Yankee Stadium last time out
Pitcher beware: Has struggled against Angels in his career
Pitcher beware: Allowed 29 homers this year
Bottom line: Can he add to postseason legacy?
Bottom line: Can he continue to pitch well in the postseason?

And frustrating from the standpoint that for Pettitte, this is nothing new. Thanks to rain, elbow issues and playoff preparations, the southpaw has not pitched on his regular fifth day since Sept. 5. His Game 6 start was to mark a return to that schedule, but now it will come on an extra day of rest instead.

"The first thing on my mind was, 'OK, wow, I haven't pitched on my fifth day probably in about six weeks,'" Pettitte said. "I've been having a lot of rest, which is very unusual, especially in the postseason."

But none of that changes the fact this remains a critical game for Pettitte and the Yankees. Game 7 is when anything can happen, when a stroke of luck here or an oddity there can send one team home for the winter.

The Yankees would rather avoid that if possible, and so they will attempt to close things out, after a one-day delay, in Sunday's Game 6, with Pettitte on the mound.

As is the case for most of Pettitte's postseason outings, there is precedent here. Starting Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS after a one-day rain delay, the lefty allowed four runs over seven innings, receiving a no-decision in a game that the Yankees ultimately won. Eleven days later, the Braves shelled Pettitte for seven runs over 2 1/3 innings in Game 1 of the World Series, a contest that was also originally postponed due to rain.

That, of course, was 13 years ago, and Pettitte is a different pitcher now. And so New York is more interested in the fact that Pettitte was the first Yankees starter this postseason to allow more than two runs in a game, serving up three of them to the Halos in Game 3 at Angel Stadium.

Pettitte has also fared markedly worse at home all season long, posting a 6-4 record and a 4.59 ERA at Yankee Stadium during the regular season, vs. an 8-4 mark with a 3.71 ERA on the road.

But Pettitte also has more postseason games and innings under his belt than anyone in Major League history, which makes the Yankees quite comfortable with his presence on the mound in what will fall just short of a must-win game.

"He doesn't have to do anything," closer Mariano Rivera said. "He just has to be Andy. He's been in these situations for so many years that it's normal for him."

Pettitte nearly escaped from his Game 3 start on Monday with fewer than three runs to his name. Clinging to a two-run lead in the sixth inning against the Angels, though, he finally caved, serving up a game-tying homer to Vladimir Guerrero.

Moments later, Pettitte turned the ball over to the bullpen, which remained stout until Alfredo Aceves gave up a walk-off double to Jeff Mathis in the 11th.

"I hated that I wasn't able to get that last out and turn it over to our bullpen," Pettitte said of the Guerrero home run. "It's all about making pitches. You make a mistake and you get hurt. I made a mistake to their No. 4 hitter."

Results aside, however, Pettitte pitched well in Game 3 considering his history against the Angels. In three previous encounters with them this season, Pettitte had been 0-2 with a 7.88 ERA. Both of those losses came in California, but Pettitte has not beaten the Halos anywhere since August 2007.

They are numbers that hardly worry the Bombers. Pettitte is one of the four links back to club's dynasty days of the late 1990s, along with Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Rivera. And as manager Joe Girardi noted prior to Game 5, such playoff experience cannot be discounted.

Short of stellar
Andy Pettitte enters Sunday's start
winless in three Game 6 starts.
Series Opp. IP R Dec.
2003 WS FLA 7 2 L
2003 ALCS BOS 5 4 ND
2001 WS ARI 2 6 L

"They understand what it takes to win," Girardi said. "They have been on very good teams with a lot of talented players. They're extremely talented.

"They know what it takes when it comes to taking care of their bodies and being on the field every day. They understand how to deal with the pressures at this time of year."

A Game 6 against a team as good as the Angels comes complete with plenty of pressure. But with Pettitte, at least, the Yankees know exactly what they will be sending to the mound.

"This is what I came back for," Pettitte said, referring to his decision to sign a one-year contract rather than retire this past offseason. "It's kind of all worked out. And we have a tremendous opportunity here. I have a tremendous opportunity to help this organization get back to another World Series.

"More than anything, I'm just thankful for that. I'm thankful I've been healthy all year. It's been a great year, and hopefully, we can wrap this thing up. It will be special."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.