Pettitte roughed up by former team
The Astros, appearing at Yankee Stadium as an American League team for the first time, had a rude welcome Monday night for former teammate Andy Pettitte. Houston stunned the crowd with a three-run rally in the first inning after two were out.
Pettitte spent three seasons (2004-06) with the Astros before returning to the Yankees in 2007. In his only previous start against Houston June 11, 2010, Pettitte earned his 200th career victory. Recent call-up Austin Romine got his first start of the season behind the plate for Pettitte.
The noise began off Pettitte with a two-out single to center by Brandon Laird, who got into 25 games for the Yankees in 2011, the year that Pettitte retired from the game only to come back to the Yankees the following season. Chris Carter singled sharply to left, which brought up Pettitte nemesis Carlos Pena.
You would think that a free-swinging, left-handed batter like Pena would be a pigeon against the left-handed Pettitte. Not so. Pena took a .326 batting average with six home runs in 43 career at-bats against Pettitte into the first-inning plate appearance and improved on it with a line single to right for Houston’s first run.
Andy continued to struggle as he walked Ronny Cedeno on four pitches, which loaded the bases. Carlos Corporan, the Houston catcher, drove in two more runs with a double to right. Even the third out of the inning, a liner to shortstop by Matt Dominguez, was well-struck. Pettitte got off to a shaky start in the second when he hit Robbie Grossman with a pitch, but that was rectified when Jose Altuve grounded into a double play.
Pena struck again in the third with two out as he tripled off the center-field wall. It was his third career triple in 45 at-bats off Pettitte and raised his career average against him to .356. Pena was stranded, however, as Cedeno flied out to left to end the inning.
If most of these Astros names sound unfamiliar, you are not alone. Houston has the lowest payroll in the league and entered the game with a 7-18 record, the worst in the AL. The Astros did not look that bad against Pettitte. They scored two more two-out runs in the fourth inning on successive, RBI doubles by Altuve and Brandon Barnes. Pettitte had not allowed more than three runs in any of his previous four starts.
He departed in the fifth after giving up a one-out double to Cedeno on a ball that hit the third base bag, hopped over Jayson Nix and down the left field line. Both runners Pettitte left on base upon his departure ended up scoring on a wild pitch by Adam Warren and a two-run homer by Corporan, who had four of the Astros’ 17 hits in their 9-1 victory.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him without his slider,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “That’s a swing-and-miss pitch for him, but it wasn’t there for him.”
“Not to give us a chance to win this game makes me sick to my stomach,” Pettitte said.
Pettitte’s ERA grew from 2.22 to 3.86. It was that kind of night for Andy.