Yanks' Pettitte twirls a gem -- until fateful seventh
Updated: Monday October 29, 2001 4:38 AM
By John Donovan, CNNSI.com
PHOENIX -- You can't pitch most of seven innings much better than Andy Pettitte did Sunday night. The Yankees' left-hander was on, in a big, big way, and on baseball's biggest stage, too.
Then a pitch slipped away and plunked somebody. And then a could've-been -- maybe should've-been -- double-play ball turned into a simple forceout.
Somebody got semi-lucky and smacked a pitch off his leg that turned into an infield single. And then Pettitte made the one, gargantuan mistake that cost him the game. A fat pitch. A stupid pitch. A pitch that was nowhere near where it should've been.
So it is that the Yankees, who have won the past three World Series, stand in an 0-2 hole looking up at the uppity Arizona Diamondbacks in this one.
"I felt great tonight," Pettitte said after the D'backs slammed New York 4-0 in Game 2 of the Series at Bank One Ballpark. "I felt ... it's kind of scary we weren't able to get a win out of it [as good as I felt]."
Pettitte, maybe manager Joe Torre's best big-game pitcher, was sharp from the start. He threw eight pitches in the first inning -- all for strikes. Through the first three innings, he had thrown five balls. For the game, he threw 80 pitches. Only 16 were balls.
He gave up a run in the second on an infield single and a double, but he still was dominating. Until the seventh. That's when circumstances conspired to ruin what had become a beautiful Series pitching duel between Pettitte and Arizona's Randy Johnson.
"He never disappoints," Torre said of his lefty. "He goes out there, prepares properly and pitches his heart out."
Pettitte was ahead of Arizona left fielder Luis Gonzalez, 1-2, in the bottom of the seventh when a fastball ran in on the lefty-swinging Gonzalez, clipping his hand. It seemed like such a harmless thing at the time. But that's how the game started downhill for Pettitte.
"When I saw Bro come up with it I thought, for sure, it was a double play," Pettitte said. "But he had some trouble getting rid of it, and Sanders is fast, he was running hard ..."
In fact, Brosius was slow getting the ball to second baseman Alfonso Soriano. Then Soriano, with Gonzalez bearing down on him, made a kind-of fall-away flip to first baseman Randy Velarde, pulling him off the bag. Instead of two outs, there was only one, with Sanders on first.
"He basically got the double-play ball," Torre said. "We just couldn't turn it.
"Reggie runs very fast, but the ball was hit hard enough to Brosius that, yeah, I thought we should have been able to turn it."
And that's when Pettitte's beautiful night turned terrible. Pettitte tried to throw a cutter low and in on Williams. It ended up not cutting and staying up and away. Williams launched it 412 feet into the left-field stands for a three-run homer that finished the Yanks.
"I put it right where he likes it," Pettitte said. "It's the World Series. You can't make those kinds of mistakes."
Pettitte got the next two batters out. But after the homer -- after the missed double play, after a single off his leg -- his night essentially was done.
And so were the Yankees.