Ready or not, Pettitte gets Game 2 start

New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte speaks to New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte speaks to the media during a press conference before game 1 of the ALDS at Target stadium in Minneapolis MN. on the afternoon of October 6, 2010. Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams

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MINNEAPOLIS - The Yankees know exactly what they will be getting Thursday night when Andy Pettitte takes the mound for Game 2 of the American League Division Series against the Twins at Target Field.

Except that they have no idea what they'll be getting.

They know Pettitte is as postseason-tested as any pitcher in baseball history. With 18 wins, he has more than anyone else.

Or, as CC Sabathia overstated it on Tuesday, "Andy Pettitte is the best pitcher in the playoffs in the history of baseball."

But the Yankees also know Pettitte really didn't have enough prep time for the postseason after he came back from the July 18 groin injury that robbed him of two months. After two minor-league rehab outings, Pettitte pitched 13 1/3 innings in three starts, including four his last time out last Saturday against the Red Sox.

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"I wouldn't say he was 100 percent pitching like normal, because I don't think he necessarily had a feel for all of his pitches," manager Joe Girardi said last night. "Usually you have five or six starts since spring training to get ready for the season and you build on it and build on it and build on it. He was kind of on a fast track. So I think at times he didn't feel like he had all of his weapons. But I think he does now."

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Pettitte threw 79, 75 and 88 pitches in the three outings. Was it enough? It'll have to be when he opposes Carl Pavano Thursday night.

"They weren't obviously the results that I wanted," Pettitte said. "I would have loved to have been able to stretch out in my innings. I was hoping to get it out there, get into a good rhythm and go back and forth. And as far as the innings, continue to build that up. And you know I would have had loved to get my pitch count up to 100 or so. I wasn't able to build my pitch count up like I wanted to. That was a little frustrating for me."

Pettitte also had a little back issue after his second start, but that appears to have gone away. That game-time temperatures will be in the low 60s should help him avoid any problems with the back that could have arisen if the weather were more typically chilly for this time of year in this part of the country.

"I think for me right now just the command is what I would say that, if anything, was in my mind as a worry for me," he said. "My command was so good the whole first half of the season before I got injured."

Pettitte was 11-2 with a 2.70 ERA when he walked off the mound in the third inning of that July 18 start at the Stadium against the Rays. Included in those totals were two outstanding starts against the Twins in May. Pettitte won both, allowing two runs in 141/3 innings.

He also beat the Twins in the third game of last season's ALDS, the first of three series-clinching wins for Pettitte.

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