Pettitte retires with CG win vs. Astros

Pettitte retires with CG win vs. Astros
September 28, 2013, 9:00 pm
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Andy Pettitte threw a complete game in a win over the Astros on Saturday night.

(USA Today Images)

You knew something special had just occurred. Moments after the Yankees’ 2-1 win over the Astros on Saturday, players from both teams came out of their respective dugout and applauded New York starter Andy Pettitte.

Earlier, as Pettitte came out to finish the last of the ninth inning, the majority of the 37,199 in attendance at Minute Maid Park were on their feet, cheering the left-hander’s every pitch. Some in the pro-Pettitte crowd may have seen the Deer Park product pitch while he was with the Astros from 2004-06.

On Saturday night, it seemed everyone at Minute Maid Park was a fan of Pettitte, who was pitching his final game upon the conclusion of a remarkable 18-year career, which includes 256 wins.

Pettitte didn’t disappoint. In a five-hit complete-game performance Pettitte was on his game, and extended the Astros’ franchise record for most consecutive losses to 14 games.

Going out a winner was important to Pettitte, a five-time World Series champion. And doing it in front of the hometown crowed made it even sweeter.

“To finish it here is just incredible,” said Pettitte. “I couldn’t have dreamed it would work out the way it did. It’s a day I won’t forget. It’s almost like a fairy tale.”

Pettitte allowed only a fourth-inning run when Jose Altuve, who was running on the pitch, scored from second base on a ground out by Chris Carter. Pettitte struck out five with two walks.

“I’m trying to figure out why the guy is retiring,” said Astros manager Bo Porter. "It was vintage Andy Pettitte.

By making his 438th start as a Yankee, Pettitte (11-11) tied Whitey Ford for the most career starts in franchise history. By getting the win Pettitte avoided having a losing season for the first time in his 18-year career, 15 years with New York.

Pettitte’s performance overshadowed Houston starter Paul Clemens (4-7), who allowed no runs and only two hits after five innings before developing a cut on his right pitching hand in New York’s two-run sixth inning. In 5 1/3 innings Clemens allowed two runs, one earned, and five hits with four strikeouts and one walk.

New York scored both runs in the sixth inning. Robinson Cano singled in the tying run and the Yankees got the go-ahead on a throwing error by Houston catcher Matt Pagnozzi, allowing Eduardo Nunez to score from third base.

As the innings went by, the main question would be how deep into the game could Pettitte go. Yankees manager Joe Girardi paid Pettitte a mound visit in the ninth and told Pettitte it was his call to stay and complete the game or come out.

Pettitte elected to finish his final start and got J.D. Martinez to ground out to Nunez at third base to end the game. Before he took the mound on Saturday, Pettitte said he never even thought about going nine innings.

“No way did I dream about a complete game,” said Pettitte, who threw 116 pitches, 77 for strikes. “I thought I would be scuffling out there and Joe would have to come out and get me. I was just hoping I’d be in the lead.”

Pettitte said the game had a somewhat playoff atmosphere and that he did not leave anything behind. He emptied his tank, on Saturday and for his career, which includes 19 postseason wins. The complete game is Pettitte’s 27th of his career and first on the road since April 30, 2001 at Minnesota.

Clemens was on the opposing side, but he took in what Pettitte was doing on the mound.

“He’s a master of his craft,” said Clemens, who was making his fifth career start. “Eighteen years without a losing season, a true professional. It was an honor to go against him. I wanted to give him a tough one. He came out and he proved why he’s been so dominant in this game for so long.

“It’s going to be an honor to look back and tell my kids I got to throw the same mound as Andy Pettitte on his last day.”

Astros designated hitter Brandon Laird, who played for the Yankees in 2011, went 0-for-3 against Pettitte. He too appreciated what Pettitte accomplished on Saturday and throughout his career.

“The crowd was into it and it was a big day for him,” said Laird. “Just an awesome career, to finish in his hometown and just be a part of it was pretty cool.”

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