‘Hart of the Order’
By Sean Hartnett
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Andy Pettitte’s reliable left arm has guided the Yankees to triumph after triumph over the years.
As the shorthanded Yankees chase valiantly after a Wild Card berth, who would you rather have toeing the rubber than “Ol’ Reliable Andy?”
After the tarp cleared the field on Thursday, Pettitte’s solid six-inning effort against the Toronto Blue Jays pulled the Bombers to within 3 1/2 games of the second American League Wild Card spot.
The tide seems to be turning in the right direction for the Yankees. Their once-sputtering offense has finally found its stride, Mariano Rivera has shaken off any concerns over his final season ending in mediocrity and Pettitte is back to doing what he does best — compete
His effective performance on Thursday completed a four-game sweep of the Jays, and followed up Pettitte’s big night at Fenway Park in which he was in command against a tough Red Sox lineup for 6 2/3 shutout innings.
Some were predicting the end of Pettitte’s steady reign after he was shelled at U.S. Cellular Field on August 5. Pettitte was charged with seven runs after just 2 2/3 innings pitched.
Those calling for the end of Pettitte’s consistent career had a sample of strong evidence supporting their theory that the veteran’s aging left arm had run out of bullets.
At 41, Pettitte isn’t anywhere near as dominant as he was during the Yankees’ dynasty years of 1996-2003.
Pettitte’s bloated 2013 ERA of 4.26 is far above his career mark of 3.87. His batting average against of .290 is tied for the highest of his career.
Those stats are damning. But one thing you can’t measure through statistics is Pettitte’s competitiveness and ability to persevere.
He’s never been a pitcher who has dominated through sheer ability. Even in his youth, Pettitte was always a “crafty lefty” rather than someone who lit up the radar gun. He’s always gotten by on guile and guts.
Before he rides off into the sunset, Pettitte will prove he has a few triumphs left in him. The Yankees will count on his experienced left arm to guide them into the playoffs.
Follow Sean on Twitter @HartnettHockey.
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