Andy Pettitte pitched another huge game for the Yankees last night, and was an Aaron Boone error away from hurling a complete-game shut out. He would have to settle for a 6-1 victory---Jose Contreras relieved Pettitte for the final out---as the Yankees tied the Serious at a game apiece.
The Yankees have lost the first game of each playoff round this season, and for the third time, Pettitte has won Game Two (It was the 11th straight win Pettitte has earned after a Yankee loss). Pettitte threw a lot of pitches in the first inning against the Marlins last night, but ended the frame by striking out Ivan Rodriguez looking; Luis Castillo, who got a late jump off of first, was thrown out at second to complete the double play.
After that, Pettitte settled down. His cutter was nasty, and the Marlins hitters didn't stand much of a chance. Florida put the lead-off runner on base for five innings in a row (the 4th through the 8th) but couldn't capitalize. Pettitte was helped by a bit of good fortune as well:
With one on and nobody out, Miguel Cabrera hit a ball that appeared to carom off the batter's left leg and into fair territory. The Yankees turned an easy double play since neither Marlin tried to run. Then Derrek Lee lined out on a rocket to right and it was on to the eighth for Pettitte.
The Yankees got on the board early when Godziller Matsui bashed a 3-0 pitch from Mark Redman over the center field fence in the first inning for a three-run homer. According to Mike Lupica in the Daily News:
"We need a dinger tonight," Reggie Jackson said at the batting cage. "And we need one early."
Matsui made a Reggie swing in the first. Got himself a Reggie dinger. He only hit 16 home runs during the regular season, but showed from the start that he was the kind of pro who fit right in with Pettitte and Jeter and Posada and Williams, old-school Yankees who have been here the longest.
You know he would have gotten along just fine with Tino and Brosius and O'Neill. He turned out to have an awful lot of O'Neill in him, which means more line drives than long balls. But he hit a big home run early in Game 3 against the Twins, and he hit that bomb last night.
"A good situational hitter," Torre said.
Nick Johnson--who had three hits on the night---bunted for a single in the second and Juan Rivera drove him in with a double. Redman didn't last much longer, and Alfonso Soriano---who has slumped terribly in the postseason---added a two-run blast off Rick Helling to give the Bombers all the offense they would need.
Soriano has been showered with boos of late, and his home run came just in the nick of time. Unfortunately for Nick Johnson, he broke out of his slump just in time to find a seat on the bench in Florida. Jason Giambi, who has not played in the field since the playoffs began, will play first when the Serious moves south, and Johnson will come off the bench. It would be hard to bench Giambi, no matter how ineffective he's been, but I wonder if his glove will cost the Yankees. If it does in Game 3, and he doesn't hit either, I wouldn't be surprised to see Johnson back out there again.
The Marlins got the split they were looking for in New York, and return home with their cocky, young ace going in Game 3. Mike Mussina will face off against Mr. Beckett, and the Florida crowd---which is sure to be populated with Yankee fans---promises to be more enthusiastic than the Stadium crowd has been through two games. Maybe then, Mike Vaccaro, and the rest of the country will wake up and enjoy a riveting Serious.