Yankees have a pretty good lefty going, too

Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte, the all-time leader in Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte, the all-time leader in playoff wins, will start Game 3. (Oct. 17, 2010) Photo Credit: John Dunn

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Andy Pettitte is all but the forgotten man heading into Monday night, and the lefthander is just fine with that.

His teammates, not so much.

"That's been one of the things I've been talking to Curtis [Granderson] about," Marcus Thames said before yesterday's workout at Yankee Stadium. "Some people forgot that Andy is pitching tomorrow. He's going to go out and he's going to battle and he's been here before."

Said Mark Teixeira: "I'll put Andy Pettitte up against anyone in the playoffs."

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Joe Torre used to say Game 3 is the most pivotal game in a best-of-seven series. This one certainly has that feel as Pettitte, baseball's all-time postseason leader in victories, takes on Cliff Lee, who has been unbeatable in his brief postseason career, with the American League Championship Series tied at 1-1.

"If you love baseball, you love the pitching matchup tomorrow night," said former Met and current Ranger Jeff Francoeur. "It's great. It's kind of like the new postseason guy against the guy who has done it for so long."

Pettitte, who won all three series-clinching games for the Yankees last year, is 19-9 with a 3.87 ERA in 41 postseason starts. Pettitte was 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA in three Game 3 starts last year.

Lee has been the story of this postseason, as he was in 2009, winning twice against the Rays in the Division Series to run his career postseason record to 6-0 with a 1.44 ERA in seven starts.

Gaudy as those numbers are, the figures that stood out to Lee were those of the pitcher facing him.

"His credentials speak for themselves," Lee said. "You know, in my opinion, he's probably the best postseason pitcher of all time just by the number of wins and number of rings he's got. He's geared for these kinds of games for sure. He's got a ton of respect from me just as far as being a competitor and a guy that's had a very long career and been successful the majority of that career."

As much as a pitcher with that kind of postseason pedigree can fly under the radar, Pettitte has done it, which is especially the case going into tonight.

And that's OK.

"It's been like that kind of my whole career," Pettitte said. "I guess I can say I'm used to that. It's always maybe the other guy that's going to get that. That's totally fine with me. I'm not a guy who likes a lot of attention. I'm kind of uncomfortable with a whole lot of attention. I want to go out and do my job. Give us a chance to win that ballgame."

The key to that, Pettitte said, will be how he handles a long layoff. His last start came in Game 2 of the Division Series in Minneapolis on Oct. 7, so he will be pitching on 10 days' rest.

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"It will be my 11th day, so again, for me that's a little bit of length," he said. "So you are kind of concerned about that."

But concern wasn't the word most heard Sunday regarding Pettitte.

"He's been in every situation, every scenario," Derek Jeter said. "You know he's not going to be flustered too much on the mound. We have a lot of confidence in him as he has confidence in himself."

"We're very confident in Andy Pettitte," general manager Brian Cashman said. "If Andy's on, he's going to give us a chance to win. Hopefully, Andy will have his 'A' game . . . The reason he keeps coming back is to be in this position. To compete in October for a chance at a ring. Obviously, it's an important game."

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