Like most of his Seattle teammates, Casper Wells never had faced Andy Pettitte until the 39-year-old Yankees hero made his comeback Sunday at the Stadium. But as a Yankees fan from upstate Schenectady, Wells said he had seen plenty of Pettitte on TV and in person.
When Wells came up with a man on in the sixth, he was ready for the moment of his dreams. Pettitte got a fastball up in the zone and Wells sent a long, slicing drive to rightfield, where it hit the foul pole screen for a home run and a 4-1 lead in what became a 6-2 Mariners win.
"I've seen him a lot on TV, so I was scouting him from the time I was a little kid, expecting to play here and bat against him," Wells later said with a laugh. "He was my sister's favorite pitcher, too. She said, 'Andy Pettitte's coming back next week.' I said, 'Yeah, and I've got to face him Sunday. So who you going to be rooting for?' "
It was a surreal day for Wells, who visited Yankee Stadium with the Mariners last season but didn't get into any games. He left 16 tickets Sunday for family and friends, including his parents and sisters.
"I couldn't let it get too crazy because it's been a dream of mine to play in Yankee Stadium and hit a home run," Wells said. "So facing Andy Pettitte, it was a lot of things coming true today. It's pretty special."
Last year on Mother's Day, Wells gave his mom a Burberry bag, but she asked for something more precious this year, and her son delivered.
As he was circling the bases, Wells said: "I was like, 'Oh, man, this is awesome.' My mom said, 'Hit a home run for me,' like it's an easy thing to do. 'OK, Mom. Sure.' When I got past home, I gave a little acknowledgment to my mom and my family."
Justin Smoak got the first hit off Pettitte with two outs in the fourth, pulling a cutter into the leftfield seats for a 2-0 lead. Facing a pitcher with 240 major-league victories was a thrill for him, too.
"It was awesome," Smoak said. "I watched him on TV since I was a little boy. Our scouting report was that his velocity wasn't what it used to be, but he was throwing 88, 89 today. He definitely had some stuff behind it . . . He was definitely tough on us early on. I was waiting for a fastball and I got a slider or a cutter over the plate and put a good swing on it."
Michael Saunders was one of the few Mariners familiar with Pettitte. In the fifth, Saunders dragged a bunt to the right side and was safe when Pettitte failed to cover.
"Over the past few years, the only way I could get a hit off Pettitte was by bunting, so I just was looking for an opportunity," Saunders said.
Saunders was impressed by what he saw from Pettitte. "He wasn't throwing quite as hard, but he still had bite on his cutter," he said. "It's amazing he can come back after two years and still pitch like that. To do what he did today, I feel like he's going to get better as he gets more starts."