Manager Joe Torre has already announced that either Pettitte (14-9, 3.81 ERA) or 19-game winner Chien-Ming Wang will start the first game of next week’s AL division series. Pettitte is 14-9 with a 4.08 ERA in 34 career postseason outings.
With next week in mind, the Yankees expect to limit Pettitte to 50-to-60 pitches on Saturday. He’s been outstanding since the All-Star break, going 10-3 with a 3.31 ERA in 15 starts.
The veteran left-hander suffered one of those losses on Monday against Toronto, though, yielding four runs over six innings in a 4-1 defeat.
Pettitte is 1-1 with a 2.49 ERA in three starts against Baltimore this year.
New York (92-68) was eliminated from contention for a 10th consecutive AL East title with a 10-9, 10-inning loss in Friday’s series opener. The Yankees, who will face AL Central champion Cleveland in a division series, will make their 13th straight playoff appearance, but as the wild card for the first time since 1997.
The run of division titles ended in improbable fashion as closer Mariano Rivera surrendered a 9-6 lead with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning when Jay Payton tripled in three runs. Melvin Mora bunted in the winning run with two outs in the 10th.
The Yankees chose to focus instead on their recovery from a 21-29 start and the upcoming series with the Indians.
“We’re going to play even up with everybody now. That to me is more important,” manager Joe Torre said. “Sure, you’d love to win the division. What it took us to get to the postseason, obviously the way we celebrated, that’s the most important thing.”
New York went 6-0 against Cleveland this year.
The loss overshadowed another spectacular game from Alex Rodriguez, who is the favorite to win his third AL MVP trophy. He went 3-for-5 with his major league-leading 54th home run and four RBIs.
Rodriguez has 155 RBIs, tied with Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio for 10th-most in Yankees history, and the team’s highest total since 1937.
“I’m very blessed to be able to play the game at a high level for a long time. I feel fortunate,” Rodriguez said. “It’s special to (join) the great legends.”
Baltimore is headed for its 10th straight losing season, but improved to 9-7 against New York this year. The Orioles are trying to win the season series from the Yankees for the first time since 1997.
Daniel Cabrera (9-17, 5.36) looks to avoid becoming the Orioles’ second 18-game loser in as many seasons. Rodrigo Lopez lost 18 games last year, becoming the first Baltimore pitcher to lose than many since Pat Dobson in 1972.
Cabrera is 0-5 with a 7.30 ERA in his last seven starts, although he pitched well in his last outing. He gave up one run over seven innings in a 3-2 win over Kansas City on Monday.
The right-hander is 1-2 with a 5.25 ERA in four starts against the Yankees this year. Rodriguez is 10-for-27 (.370) with two homers in his career versus Cabrera.