November 03, 2009
NEW YORK — So I was ordering lunch in Philadelphia the other day when the counter person at the market rang up my items and delivered the total: $6.66.
Now, this has happened to me before and whenever it does, my superstitious self has either ordered another item or left a little extra tip or both to help even the daily balance between good and evil. Perhaps many of you do the same.
Many of you are probably also wondering where I'm going with this and ultimately it's toward this clumsy yet interesting comparison: For the first three Game 6s of his storied postseason career, Andy Pettitte(notes) seemed all sorts of cursed while pitching in that sixth slot of the series. To wit:
• In Game 6 of the 2001 World Series (above and right) Pettitte blew the Yankees' chance to clinch by giving up six runs to the Diamondbacks over just two innings. Arizona would win the game 15-2 and would go on to take the Series in seven games.
• In Game 6 of the 2003 ALCS, Pettitte gave up four runs over the first five innings of a clinching effort against Boston. Though he received a no decision, the Yankees lost the game (but it turned out to be somewhat of a blessing: The defeat paved the way for Aaron Boone's(notes) memorable home run in extra innings of Game 7).
• In Game 6 of the 2003 World Series, Pettitte pitched great, giving up only one earned run over seven innings while striking out seven. The Yankees offense, however, went missing and Pettitte was tagged with a hard luck loss in a 2-0 game that gave the Marlins the world championship trophy at Yankee Stadium.
For the next six seasons, that was the personal 6-6-6 for Pettitte, who was (and is) otherwise the most victorious pitcher in MLB playoff history.
Then came Game 6 of the ALCS against the Angels on Oct 25. Pettitte was his old lockdown self, giving up only one earned run while striking out six over 6 1/3 innings. The Yankees headed to the World Series on the strength of the win and it just may have been the pitching equivalent of tossing two bucks in the tip jar.
(See? I told you that would be clumsy. Blame it on the dementia-causing dirty water dogs.)
Pettitte's performance in his fifth Game 6 outing, of course, will be less about the number of the game and more about the three days rest he's pitching on because he's 4-6 with a 4.15 ERA while pitching on that plan.
Still, if you're a superstitious sort like me, it never hurts to be too careful. That Angels win could have made all the difference.