Nice win for the Yankees -- Andy Pettitte is on top of his game, and the Legend of Joba grows. He will, at some point, allow a run, right? I need to brace myself. Even better... and I can't believe I'm about to type this... the Angels... won (GAAARGH!!! that almost killed me), beating Seattle, and so the Yankees are now just one game back from the Mariners, two in the loss column. I chalk up this good luck to the unheralded presence of one Tino Martinez in the stands; they need to keep him there through the Seattle series if at all possible.
After every single loss, Andy Pettitte blames himself entirely -- really excoriates himself, in fact, stopping just short of hitting his head repeatedly against the wall while muttering "stupid, stupid!" It's the Paul O'Neill school of self-motivation. Meanwhile, after every win he says two things: "the offense did a great job" and "Jorgie called a great game." Tonight he just kept repeating how glad he was the hitters could "pick him up" after he allowed a home run to Varitek that tied the score at three in the 7th, on his way to throwing 119 pitches. "I thought maybe I cost us the game," he said on the postgame show, immensely relieved, "... it just killed me to make that mistake." It's okay, Andy! Fans tend to love the relatively rare players who visibly care about winning much more than they themselves do, and very possibly more than is healthy. When O'Neill came up in a big spot you rooted for him to get a hit not so much so that the Yankees would win, but so that he wouldn't hate himself. On the Mets right now I think Pedro Martinez has that quality, and it'll be a boost for them to get that back, as well as his arm.
And speaking of the Mets, if you think I was happy to have Endy Chavez back, his teammates actually burst into song. Unfortunately it didn't help at game time. Ryan Howard home runs are going to happen, but still, the Met bullpen is just hair-raising right now. But for some reason -- even after tonight -- I still have more confidence in Pedro Feliciano in a big spot than Aaron Heilman. Possibly it's because Heilman's entrance music this year has been "Don't Fear the Reaper"... and with all due respect to Blue Oyster Cult, as far as songs that will psych up a home crowd go, this is a huge step down from last year's "London Calling." It's like a vegan version of "Enter Sandman."
Then again, perhaps it's just because I haven't seen Feliciano give up a playoff series-losing home run to Yadier Molina. Anyway, it also seems clear now that if Willie Randolph really must use Guillermo Mota*, he should by no means press his luck by extending him for two innings. Question: do they test for steroids during the playoffs? Maybe they could slip him a little something just before the Division Series starts?
*Whose entrance music remains the heinous "I Like To Move It"