SERIES: AL championship series Game 2; Red Sox lead, 1-0.
Pettitte will take the hill for Game 2 of the best-of-seven AL championship series against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.
After looking lifeless in a 3-1 series-opening loss to Minnesota, the Yankees gave Pettitte the ball for Game 2 at Yankee Stadium last Thursday, and he provided them with seven brilliant innings in a much-needed 4-1 victory.
“There’s no doubt these games are intense,” Pettitte said. “It doesn’t go away—I mean, you know—I think the butterflies you get before a game, if that goes away, it’s probably time to hang it up.”
New York went on to win the next two games, advancing to its ALCS showdown with Boston.
Now, the pressure again falls on Pettitte’s shoulders to get the Yankees even before they head to Fenway Park for Games 3, 4 and 5, if necessary.
“Our pitching is our strength and, hopefully tomorrow, Andy will get us back even,” New York manager Joe Torre said. “We put him in that situation many times and he’s come up big for us.”
Pettitte, who is eligible for free agency after the World Series, went 21-8 with a 4.02 ERA this year, including 3-1 with a 5.04 ERA in four starts against Boston.
Overall, he’s 13-5 when facing the Red Sox during the regular season, and he beat them 9-2 in Game 4 of the 1999 AL championship series at Fenway.
The Red Sox will counter with Derek Lowe, who has already saved Boston twice this postseason.
After taking the loss in a 5-4, 12-inning defeat in Game 1 of the division series against Oakland, Lowe bounced back with a pair of gutty efforts.
With his club facing elimination, he allowed one unearned run over seven tough innings in the Red Sox’s 3-1 victory at Fenway Park in Game 3 on Saturday.
On Monday, Lowe entered in the ninth inning of Game 5 with runners at first and second and none out with Boston holding a one-run lead. He proceeded to get out of the jam without allowing a run to score, striking out the final two batters to preserve a series-clinching 4-3 win.
“I think … it showed that you can get out of a big jam, which at some point in tomorrow night’s game you’re going to have to do—hopefully, not too many times,” Lowe said of his clutch pitching.
“But you’ve proven to yourself and your teammates that you can get out of them.”
PROJECTED LINEUPS: Red Sox - 2B Walker (.283, 13, 85), SS Nomar Garciaparra (.301, 28, 105, 120 runs), LF Ramirez (.325, 37, 104), DH Ortiz (.288, 31, 101), 1B Kevin Millar (.276, 25, 96), RF Trot Nixon (.306, 28, 87), 3B Bill Mueller (AL-leading .326, 19, 85), C Jason Varitek (.273, 25, 85), CF Gabe Kapler (.271, 4, 27). Yankees - 2B Alfonso Soriano (.290, 38, 91, 114 runs, 35 steals, 130 Ks), SS Derek Jeter (.324, 10, 52), 1B Jason Giambi (.250, 41, 107, 129 BBs, 140 Ks), CF Bernie Williams (.263, 15, 64), C Jorge Posada (.281, 30, 101), LF Hideki Matsui (.287, 16, 106, 42 doubles), 3B Aaron Boone (.254, 6, 31, 8 steals), DH Nick Johnson (.284, 14, 47, 70 BBs in 96 games), RF Juan Rivera (.266, 7, 26).
RED SOX PROBABLE STARTER: Lowe (17-7, 4.47). Lowe has not pitched well on the road this season, going 6-5 with a 6.11 ERA in 16 starts. He was 11-2 with a 3.21 ERA in 17 starts at Fenway. The veteran right-hander is 2-3 with three saves and a 4.91 ERA in 15 career regular season appearances, including five starts, at Yankee Stadium. Lowe made three relief appearances against the Yankees in the 1999 ALCS, yielding one earned run and six hits over 6 1-3 innings.
YANKEES PROBABLE STARTER: Pettitte (21-8, 4.08). Pettitte has excelled in ALCS play, going 5-1 with a 3.75 ERA in seven starts. He was named the MVP of the 2001 ALCS against Seattle, going 2-0 with a 2.51 ERA. Pettitte was 10-4 with a 3.78 ERA in 16 home starts this year.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Red Sox - Before Wednesday’s victory, Boston had dropped 12 of its previous 13 ALCS games. … 2B Walker’s four postseason homers this year ties the team record established by SS Garciaparra in 1999. … CF Johnny Damon, recovering from a concussion sustained Monday, won’t be available until Game 3 at the earliest. Yankees - The last time LHP Pettitte faced the Red Sox in New York, he was pounded for eight runs and nine hits over 2 1-3 innings in a 9-3 loss on Sept. 5. … Rookie OF Matsui went 6-for-11 with six RBIs against RHP Lowe this year. … Under manager Joe Torre, the Yankees are 6-1 in playoff series in which they’ve lost the first game, with the only loss coming in the 2001 World Series.