ARLINGTON, Texas - After watching CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes struggle in their American League Championship Series starts after long layoffs, Andy Pettitte admitted he has some concerns heading into his start.
That’s the last thing the Yankees want to hear, considering how their road to the World Series suddenly looks harder than it did a day ago.
With the best-of-seven series tied at 1 after a 7-2 loss in Game 2 Saturday, the Yankees now have to go up against dominant left-hander Cliff Lee in Game 3 and plan to send the unpredictable A.J. Burnett to the mound in Game 4. So it’s easy to envision a scenario in which the Yankees fall behind three games to one.
That’s what makes Pettitte’s performance Monday night so important, and the left-hander knows it. He just hopes he doesn’t have any negative effects from the 10 days of rest he will have since he last pitched in Minnesota in ALDS Game 2 on Oct. 7.
“Obviously, it’s going to be 11 days for me making this start on Monday, which is an awful long time,” Pettitte said Saturday. “You’d rather pitch on three days’ rest than (10) days’ rest, I can promise you that much.”
Pettitte said he is convinced that the long layoffs negatively affected Sabathia and Hughes.
“There’s no doubt about it, I believe,” he said. And he thinks the only way that he can combat falling victim to the same problem Monday is by fighting his way through the early innings unscathed.
“I think literally, it’s if you can get through those first couple of innings,” he said. “If you can control your emotions and get going early. Sometimes it’s tough to get going.”
But Pettitte is not worried about struggling in an important moment. He said he used to look back on his performance in Game 5 of the 1996 World Series (8 scoreless innings) to give him confidence in these spots, but he doesn’t need that anymore.
“I hate to say this, but it’s just not that big an issue to me,” he said. “I don’t want to sound arrogant. But I’ve made so many postseason starts and they all seemed so big, so it’s another game.”