Andy back to Stadium for the postseason

Andy Pettitte made another postseason start Sunday – sort of. The all-time leader in postseason starts with 42 ran to the mound before Game 2 of the American League Division Series wearing a blue sweat suit and threw out the ceremonial first pitch, a strike to his old battery mate, Jorge Posada, who was in the lineup as the designated hitter. Jorgie’s catching duties now are relegated to pregame activities. He handled the chores before Game 1 as well with Mariano Rivera.

Andy’s wife, Laura, also did a nice job singing the National Anthem.

Following Andy to the hill was Freddy Garcia for Game 2 as the long-debated third starter. Who would follow CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova in the rotation for the playoffs was a subject of debate around the Yankees for months. Sabathia and Nova both pitched in Game 1 because rain Friday night caused the game to be suspended and resumed Saturday night.

Yankees fans would probably have been elated if told they would get five innings from Garcia and allow only two runs over that period. That is what they got. After Miguel Cabrera homered off a 2-0 pitch to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead, Garcia gave up no runs and one hit over the next four innings. Freddy even pitched decently in the sixth, but a rare error by Derek Jeter began a Detroit rally.

Jeter had made the key fielding play in Game 1, taking a throw from center fielder Curtis Granderson and relaying the ball to the plate to get Alex Avila trying to score in the fifth inning. Avila did not slide, which sort of helped matters. It was a 1-1 game at that point, so the play was huge. It got obscured when the Yankees scored six runs the next inning to pull away.

Here’s a funny thing about that play. Granderson was not thinking about a play at the plate when he threw the ball in. He got the ball to the infield as quickly as he could because he wanted to keep the double play in order. Jhonny Peralta’s hit was of the dying quail variety, and Curtis didn’t want him to get beyond first base. Avila had to hold up to see if the ball would fall, which Jeter noticed so when he got Granderson’s relay he did not hesitate and threw home for what at the time was a vital out.

That is what makes Jeter such a great shortstop despite all the crap you may read about with all these boutique fielding statistics that are no more revealing than fielding percentage. The Captain is human, however, and therefore capable of making mistakes. DJ’s errors are usually on throws, which was the case in the sixth as leadoff hitter Austin Jackson reached first base.

The Tigers began sitting on Garcia’s off-speed stuff, which had been effective for five innings. Magglio Ordonez singled on a splitter that stayed up. Cabrera singled home a run off a changeup and Victor Martinez did likewise off a curve before Boone Logan came in to stop the bleeding with two strikeouts.

The 4-0 spread looked pretty secure in the hard-throwing right arm of Max Scherzer, who took a no-hitter into the sixth. Robinson Cano broke the string by dunking a one-out single to left off a 97-mph fastball. Scherzer gave up only one other hit.

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