Andy Pettitte improved to an impressive 15-5 after defeating the Texas Rangers this afternoon at the Stadium. Manager Joe Torre utilized the formula today, handing the ball to Mariano Rivera for two innings and John Wetteland for the ninth to secure the win.
There is some cause for concern with Pettitte, however. He emerged from the trainer’s room after the game with his left elbow heavily wrapped in ice. The 24-year-old has experienced elbow stiffness since June 16, but manager Joe Torre said he’s been more consistent with his pitches. Pettitte insisted his elbow pain remained the same over the last few weeks.
“I was fine,” said Pettitte. “I would have liked to have thrown more. It’s the same as it’s been.” (via NY Times)
The Yankees were down 2-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth, but they were able to get to Texas starter Jose Alberro, who was making his first major league start. Tino Martinez came through with the biggest hit of the day, connecting on a bases loaded, bases clearing double to right field to give the Yankees a 4-2 lead. He was helped by right fielder Damon Buford, who wasn’t wearing sunglasses and misplayed the ball allowing the Yankees to take the lead.
“When he hit it, I thought I had it,” Buford said. “It’s disappointing because that changed the whole game.” (via NY Times)
That was enough for Pettitte, who grinded through six innings while allowing nine hits and just those two runs. He held the Rangers to just one hit in six at-bats with runners in scoring position.
Rivera came on and lowered his ERA to a minuscule 1.53, striking out two batters along the way. Wetteland was able to convert his 35th save of the season, giving the Yankees their first series win since they swept the Baltimore Orioles from July 11-14.
The Yankees now hold a commanding 10 game lead in the AL East over Baltimore, as they welcome in the 46-56 Kansas City Royals into the Bronx tomorrow night for the first of four. Mark Hutton will go against Jose Rosado.