Andy Pettitte pitches in the seventh inning against the Texas...

Andy Pettitte pitches in the seventh inning against the Texas Rangers at Yankee Stadium, Sunday. (April 18, 2010) Credit: Kathy Kmonicek

BALTIMORE

Not surprisingly, the person least impressed by Andy Pettitte's fast start is Pettitte.

Known for being his harshest critic when things aren't going well, the 37-year-old lefty can be just as self-critical when he has this kind of start - 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA, the lowest of his career this far into a season.

"I know I'm not going to have a 1 ERA in the American League," he said in front of his locker before Tuesday's game. "I'm just going to try to keep going out and doing what I'm doing. I believe that I have a great team and I just know too that I feel real relaxed from the standpoint if I give up runs, the team's still going to be in it and just putting not a whole lot of pressure on myself right now."

The key to the start, said Pettitte, who goes Friday against the White Sox at the Stadium, isn't necessarily exceptional command or pitches moving in ways they haven't before.

"I just feel like things have gone like really right for me over the first four starts," Pettitte said. "Whenever I have gotten a little out of sync, I've been able to get it back again in the right direction without giving up a lot of damage."

In Pettitte's mind, he wasn't outstanding in his previous start last Saturday in Anaheim when he held the Angels to six hits and one run over eight innings. He simply caught a good break when Mike Napoli, after leading off the third with a single, was cut down at third for the inning's first out trying to advance on Brandon Wood's single to left.

"In that game the other day, if they don't give me an out at third there, I think I gave up another hit there after he got thrown out at third, so that could have been another run," Pettitte said.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia, whose team Pettitte shut out over six innings in the Yankees' home opener April 13, hasn't seen a lucky pitcher.

"The last two times he's pitched against us, that's about as good as we've seen him," Scioscia said in Anaheim. "He might be taking a sip of the fountain of youth or something. He's throwing the ball very well."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi isn't surprised to hear Pettitte, even in the midst of this kind of start, focus on luck or good fortune.

"That's the way he likes it," Girardi said. "Just do his job, beat himself up a little bit and get wins."

Which, after Saturday in Anaheim, stood at 232 for his career.

Pettitte has joked his truncated spring regimen - a combined 91/3 innings because of various rain issues - will be something he follows in the future as it has contributed to his outstanding 2010 numbers.

He allows he's been on "a pretty good run" since the last postseason, when he won three series-clinching games, and it's continued into this season.

"I just feel like I've been in pretty good control and have a pretty good idea of what I want to do with the hitters," Pettitte said.

Mark Teixeira said that aspect of Pettitte's game is what he notices most.

"He reads hitters so if a hitter is diving out over the plate, he's going to throw that cutter inside," Teixeira said. "If a guy's trying to pull him, he's going to throw that changeup or two-seamer down and away. He's so smart, so you take his work ethic, his toughness and his intelligence, put them together, that's a good pitcher right there."

Just don't tell that to Pettitte, who seems to be in perpetual wait for the other shoe to drop.

"I should enjoy this game more," he said with a smile. "But that's just the way I'm built. I don't want to change because . . . I never want to start thinking I have this game figured out or that I'm better than anyone else. I'm glad that's the way that God has built me."