Commentary

Andy Pettitte prepared for duel with Lee

All the attention is on the Rangers' ace, but the Yanks' Game 3 starter is darn good, too

Updated: October 18, 2010, 11:23 AM ET
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- It is about as emotional and combative as normally-stoic New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi can become in a postgame news conference. On the Girardi scale, it was significant.

[+] EnlargeAndy Pettitte
Andrew Burton/Getty ImagesPeople forget, Andy Pettitte has the most postseason wins in MLB history.

As the media is writing pearls about the Texas Rangers' Game 3 starter, Cliff Lee, and everyone is basically handing the Yankees a loss Monday, Girardi remains defiant and with a message.

Don't forget about his guy in Game 3: Andy Pettitte.

"The guy that is getting lost in this is Andy Pettitte," Girardi said. "And he's pretty good."

The Yankees almost seemed annoyed about all the talk about Lee pitching in Game 3. Deadlocked at one game apiece after Saturday's 7-2 loss to the Rangers, the Yankees return home to the Bronx, turning to their old faithful, Pettitte.

The Yankees respect Lee's greatness and look forward to Lee possibly joining them next season, but they may be a little extra-motivated Monday night.

"It is finally here," said Mark Teixera before adding that Lee deserves all the attention.

The 38-year-old Pettitte doesn't mind Lee getting all the pub. He's seen so much over 41 career postseason starts. After Phil Hughes followed CC Sabathia with a similar terrible outing Saturday, Pettitte said the long Yankees layoff impacted both starters.

"There is no doubt about it," Pettitte said.

Pettitte also believes he is being overlooked. But unlike most other big-time athletes, Pettitte doesn't mind at all.

"That's kind of how it always is," said Pettitte, who will be looking for his record 20th career postseason win Monday. "I don't think I get a whole lot of attention when I go out and take the mound, which is exactly how I like it. I just want to go out and do my job."

On Monday, his cap will be pulled down tight on his head. His eyes will be wide, looking almost child-like, belying his intensity. It won't matter to him that the series is deadlocked, or that Lee is on the mound opposing him.

"It is not that big of an issue to me," Pettitte said. "I've made so many postseason starts and they have all seemed so big or whatever. It is another game."

Pettitte has stared down many a legendary ace, no instance more memorable than Game 5 of the 1996 World Series, when he beat the Braves and John Smoltz 1-0.

Girardi , who doesn't do much without a reason, has been repeatedly asked about Lee. After the Game 2 loss, he was asked the question again, and Girardi went out of his way to turn the conversation to his guy.

"We know he's very good," Girardi said of Lee. "We've seen him a lot in his career. There's been talk about Cliff Lee before he even started this series and people were talking about Game 3. But let's not forget that we have a pretty good guy on the mound, too, that's won a lot of postseason games and has won a lot of clinchers in his career. I can go back to catching him in 1998 when he won the clincher against San Diego [in the World Series]. He's been doing it a long time. You would think it would be a great matchup on Monday night."

With Sabathia not looking like his normal self Friday and Hughes flailing Saturday, the Yankees have to find some quality starting pitching. Sabathia may pitch on three days' rest in Game 4, but general manager Brian Cashman said there has been no discussion about pitching Hughes on three days' rest in Game 5. Pettitte said he could go on short rest in Game 6. A.J. Burnett said he is starting Game 4.

But right now, Game 3 is, finally, next up.

"Hopefully, it is a good matchup," Pettitte said. "Hopefully, it is a good matchup on my end."

Girardi is counting on it. The Yankees need it. Badly.

Andrew Marchand covers baseball for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

More from ESPNNewYork.com »

Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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