A memorable day for Pettitte & son

When you watch Andy Pettitte pitch as effectively as he did Saturday, you wonder why he ever walked away from the game two years ago. Well, we all know the reasons for that, in large part for family considerations and weariness in dealing with health issues that come with age. Andy’s decision to make a comeback after sitting out all of 2011 was rewarded with a major milestone in the Yankees’ 3-1 victory over the Mariners, career No. 250 for the lefthander.

It’s a round number of winning decisions that only 46 other major-league pitchers have reached. It took Pettitte three starts, but he could not have asked for a better example of his ability than the game he fashioned Saturday, exactly one week short of his 41st birthday. He pitched one out into the eighth inning with an efficient 85 pitches, gave up one run and three hits with no walks and six strikeouts to get his ERA below 4.00 at 3.82.

The run was even tainted. After giving up two singles with none out in the fourth, Pettitte got Kendrys Morales to hit a grounder to shortstop that had double play written all over it until Jayson Nix bobbled the ball and in his haste was late tagging the bag at second before throwing to first to get a hobbling Morales, who eventually left the game with a hamstring injury. Losing the out at second put Mike Morse in a position to get the run in on a sacrifice fly to center.

That knotted the score at 1, but Nix made a full recovery and put the Yankees back in front an inning later with a two-out single off lefthander Joe Saunders. Nix added an insurance run for the Yankees with one out in the seventh by following a double by Brett Gardner by greeting reliever Danny Farquhar with a single to center. Nix has 13 hits in his past 38 at-bats (.342) to raise his season average to .255. He also stole a base and is 7-for-7 in steals.

The Yankees broke out for 10 hits, which was good to see. Gardner had two doubles and a single. He has hit safely in 14 of his past 16 games and is batting .328 in 58 at-bats during that stretch. Gardner has scored at least one run in 16 of past 23 starts. Vernon Wells, who is battling a 6-for-57 (.105) slump, showed signs of getting back on track with two singles.

Appropriately, Mariano Rivera notched the save, his 22nd of the season and – speaking of round numbers – the 630th of his career. This was the 71st time that Rivera saved a victory for Pettitte, the most of any pitching combination since the save rule went into effect in 1969.

And the news just got better for Pettitte after the game when he learned that his son, Josh, had been taken by the Yankees in the 37th round of the First Year Player Draft. The younger Pettitte is a right-handed pitcher from Deer Park High School in Texas. While out of the majors, Andy was able to follow Josh’s career. He was teased by Mo in the clubhouse who told him he would have to stick around for about five more years so he and his son can pitch together.

When Pettitte pitches the way he did Saturday, that does not seem like much of a joke.

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