Pettitte and Mariano help pitch Yankees to first win of season
By Rich Mancuso
BRONX, NEW YORK, April 5- Give the ball to Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera, two of the greatest to take the mound for the New York Yankees and chances are a win will come. They are two of the “Core Four” of five Yankee championships and Thursday evening in the Bronx they continued something good that will conclude this season.
Rivera, the all-time saves leader in baseball has announced this will be his last season on the mound, while Pettitte intends to continue. The pair extended their all-time record, a 69th save for Rivera getting Pettitte a win on the mound, as New York won their first game of the season 4-2 over the Boston Red Sox.
Boston took the first two games of the series that started the season for both teams at Yankee Stadium Monday afternoon.
Pettitte held Boston to an earned run in eight innings, improving to 18-3 in 27 career starts as a Yankee with the Yankees attempting to avoid a regular season series sweep of any length.
“It’s what Andy does using all of his pitches, his fastball, curve, slider,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi who said he fed into the emotion that was displayed by the 40,611 fans when Rivera came out of the pen and close his first game of the season.
How many more times Pettitte and Rivera will do this again this season remains to be determined. What is known, there won’t be any more of these great moments after this year. And each time Rivera comes out of the pen, either in the Bronx, or a visiting town, there will be accolades and emotion.
“There is a lot of emotion but at the same time you can’t control that,” commented Rivera who recorded career save 609, after giving up a run and a hit in the ninth inning.
Pettitte got run support he needed with the first home runs of the season coming off the bats of Brett Gardner and Francisco Cervelli.
Said Cervelli about Pettitte, "He hit his spots very well. He was able to command and take command of the game.
“I felt strong and was able to get through early, able to mix pitches and make double plays,” said Pettitte who induced three double-play groundouts. He added, “You don’t want to get swept your opening series at home. We got some runs and timely hits when we needed them.’
And as seen so often the past 15-years, Mariano Rivera coming out of the pen to save a game was extra special for Pettitte.
“Glad I could contribute and give us a good outing,” he said. “Obviously I feel real secure and good about things when you see that guy come run in from the bullpen,” referring to Rivera.
More importantly it was a win for the Yankees, three games into the season. They said an important task is ahead, a long season of course as they embark on their first road trip to Detroit and to an improved Cleveland Indians team. The task is to get healthy, and the win significant.
They did not want to leave the Bronx and not have a win. “You don’t want to lose don’t want to get swept,” added Pettitte. “It’s all about winning series and focus on winning series.
And in the minds of the Yankees, and their fans it’s all about not wondering of the day when Pettitte and Rivera are no longer available.
e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com