It’s going to seem like old times on Saturday when Andy Pettitte takes the mound a final time at Minute Maid Park.
Pettitte hasn’t pitched for the Astros since his three-year stint with the club ended in 2006. Saturday’s 6:10 p.m. start between the Astros and Yankees will conclude an illustrious career for the Yankees’ Pettitte, a product of Deer Park High School, who is retiring after 18 seasons.
And if Astros fans are suddenly recalling the good old days of Pettitte and Roger Clemens pitching for the Astros, they’ll be in for a treat as a Clemens will be opposing Pettite. Right-hander Paul Clemens (4-6, 5.69 ERA) gets the start for the Astros in a weekend that brings a close to the careers of New York closer Mariano Rivera and Pettitte (10-11, 3.88 ERA), who had a career-low 2.39 ERA in Houston’s 2005 World Series season.
“It’s an honor, a privilege, it’s a blessing,” said Clemens. “The way to honor these guys is to go out and give them a dog fight. Make them earn everything they get. Hopefully we walk out with a win.”
Pettitte is a likely Hall of Famer with 255 career wins (153 losses), including a major league-record 19 postseason wins (11 losses). Clemens said he likes the challenge of opposing Pettitte in the 41-year-old’s last major league start.
“Enough motivation in itself,” said Clemens, who will be making his fifth major league start. “He’s a longtime veteran. I don’t think he’d want anything else than a nice competitive match to send him off into the sunset.”
Saturday’s game has its importance to Pettitte, but it’s also important to the rookie Clemens and the Astros, who have lost a franchise-record 13 straight games.
“Definitely,” said Clemens. “You want to finish strong no matter where you’re at. It’s a last parting gift you can give to your teammates, to the organization.”