The Yankees lost 5-2 to the Angels Monday night as Joe Saunders pitched a gem. Saunders allowed solo homers to Alex Rodriguez and pinch-hitter Hideki Matsui (Godzilla’s first career pinch-hit tater) in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively, but otherwise allowed just five hits, no runs, and walked no one. Meanwhile, the Rangers crushed the A’s 10-3 to postpone the Yankees’ postseason clinch at least one more day.
None of that was particularly important, however. The most significant thing that happened for the Yankees on Monday night was that Andy Pettitte turned in a quality start, recovering from a rocky, two-run first inning to retired the Angels in order in the second, third, and fourth before giving up a third run in the fifth on a walk and a pair of singles. Pettitte then retired Vlad Guerrero, Torii Hunter, and Juan Rivera in order in the sixth, finishing his day at 91 pitches with just five hits allowed in six innings.
Pettitte had skipped his last turn due to some shoulder discomfort in his previous start, but after shaking off some rust in the first, he looked sharp, and more importantly, said he felt good after the game. In fact, Pettitte said his shoulder hasn’t hurt since that previous start ten days earlier. That’s a tremendous relief given Joba Chamberlain’s disaster start on Sunday and A.J. Burnett’s inconsistency. The Yankees’ biggest concern entering the postseason is the effectiveness of their starting rotation. Having Pettitte healthy and effective is of utmost importance.
Trailing 3-0, Joe Girardi used the remainder of the game to audition relievers for the postseason roster, giving the seventh to Brian Bruney and the eighth to Jonathan Albaldejo. Neither made much of a case for himself. Bruney gave up two hits including a booming home run to pinch-hitter Kendry Morales (Bruney said after the game that he was trying to be too fine with the pitch). Albaladejo gave up a run on a Vlad Guerrero single and a double to the wall by Juan Rivera.