Andy Pettitte was spectacular on the mound as the New York Yankees avoided an opening series sweep with a 4-2 win over the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees lost back-to-back games to start the season for the second straight year but received 8 strong innings of work from Pettitte to hold off the Red Sox in game three.
Pettitte contemplated retirement once again this past offseason but decided to return to the Yankees his 15th season with the ball club. The 40-year-old lefthander is off to a greart start and gave up just one run on eight hits and three strikeout on Thursday.
According to ESPN’sMark Simon, Pettitte is the first Yankee at 40 to pitch eight innings and give up one run or less against the Red Sox since Bobo Newsom in 1947. Pettitte sported a 5-4 record last year with the Yankees after coming out of retirement.
The five-time World Series champion retired before the 2011-12 season after posting an 11-3 record in 21 starts in 2010. Pettitte will turn 41 three-months into the season this year but proved Thursday he can still win ballgames.
First baseman Lyle Overbay opened up the scoring with a single to shallow center that drove in Travis Hafner and Eduardo Nunez in the second inning. This was the Yankees first lead in an official ballgame since game five of the American League Division Series last year.
Brett Gardner followed by leading off the third inning with his first home run of the season, which you can see here:
Pettitte kept the Red Sox off the board until the seventh inning, when Jackie Bradley Jr. doubled in Will Middlebrooks and cut the Yankees lead to 3-1. It wouldn’t take long for the Yankees to regain their three-run lead, as Francisco Cervelli led off the bottom of the seventh with a solo shot to make it 4-1 Yankees.
Pettitte finished his night after inducing two key groundballs from Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino, giving way to the greatest closer of all-time. “Enter Sandman” by Metallica was played for the first time this season, as Mariano Rivera took the field for his first save in 2013.
Rivera walked Dustin Pedroia to open up the ninth before Mike Napoli flied out to right. After Jonny Gomes doubled, Will Middlebrooks drove in Pedroia with a groundout to first.
Then came Jackie Bradley Jr., the talk of the Red Sox in spring training who is off to a hot start in his rookie season. Rivera got the best of him, as Bradley jr. struck out looking to end the game.
The Yankees now move on to Detroit for a three-game set with the Tigers, who lost 2-of-3 to the Minnesota Twins to open the season. The Red Sox will go across the Canadian border to face Jose Bautista and the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Yankees are without Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira to start the season, but don’t count them out just yet. A year ago the Yankees were criticized for their lack of youth and depth in the bullpen, but still managed to win the AL East before falling apart in the postseason.
Can the Yankees hold it together until their stars return, or will the overpowering AL East get the best of MLB’s most historic franchise in 2013?
[Image via Keith Allison]