May 30, 2009

Yankees defeat Indians 3-1 despite Pettitte leaving with back stiffness

After a 90 minute rain delay, the Yankees (28-20) gained sole possession of first place after beating the Indians (21-29) 3-1.  Andy Pettitte left after two batters reached in the sixth with lower back stiffness, but Alfredo Aceves pitched beautifully in relief.

Quick ‘Cap:
Indians starter Cliff Lee escaped a bases loaded, one out jam in the first inning, but the Yankees put together two runs off him in the second and one more in the third.  Derek Jeter had an RBI single and Mark Teixeira scored another run on a groundout.  Nick Swisher’s deep sac-fly in the third scored Robinson Cano.  Lee allowed seven singles and walked two in the first three innings alone.

Lee cooled down though, and made it through six innings allowing no more runs.  Pettitte gave up a single to Mark Derosa and walked Ben Francisco on four pitches to start the sixth, prompting Joe Girardi and assistant trainer Steve Donohue to approach the mound for the second time in the game.  This time, he went back to the dugout with the two concerned coaches after just 84 pitches.  He walked five batters for the first time since June 2007.

Aceves let DeRosa score on a sac-fly from Shin-soo Choo later on in the inning, but nothing more.  He pitched a 1-2-3 seventh and allowed just a single in the eighth.  Mariano Rivera did his thing in the ninth for save number 10.  Full box score here.

John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman didn’t seem to make much of Pettitte’s injury, which always scares me.  Girardi said after the game that he doesn’t want Pettitte to miss his next start, and taking him out early may prevent it from happening.

UPDATE:  Pettitte offers some reassurance to fans after the game:

“I’m going to be fine for my next start,” Pettitte said. “I was a lot worse when I aggravated it [in Texas], so I’ll definitely be making my next start.”  (h/t Newsday's Erick Boland)

Aceves was the man tonight, he’s really been the Girardi’s go-to guy in May.  He lost his first game of the season in his last appearance, but he made up for it tonight.

Noteworthy Performances:
- Jorge Posada was back in the lineup, and seems to be back where he left off.  He went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk.
- Pettitte earned his team-leading fifth win by battling in and out of trouble.
- Aceves: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 K.  That’s pretty.

Up Next:
Game 2 is tomorrow night between the former one-two punch for the Indians – CC Sabathia (4-3, 3.42) vs. Fausto Carmona (2-4, 6.42).

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