This past Sunday was the final start for Andy Pettitte at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. On Saturday night, just 20 minutes away from his home town in Texas, the 41-year-old was making his final start ever in his career against the Houston Astros, as he is retiring after the season.
It was only fitting that he got to make the start pitching against his former team in front of family and friends at Minute Maid Park; and in that game, he gave the fans one final vintage Pettitte start.
Pettitte came out firing against the Astros hitters and really looked sharp on the mound, keeping the Houston hitters off balanced and on their toes all night.
The one and only shred of offense the Astros mustered up against Pettitte in the game was in the bottom of the fourth inning; when Chris Carter grounded to Brendan Ryan, who was thrown out, but Jose Altuve was going on the hit and run and by the time Lyle Overbay caught the ball at first and then threw home to Chris Stewart, Altuve scored to make it 1-0 Houston.
Other than that, the Astros stood no chance against Pettitte, as he continued to be dominant on the mound in front of a packed house that was solely on his side and rooting for him to win.
Pitching against the Yankees was Astros rookie Paul Clemens, who kept the Bombers offense in check until the top of the sixth inning; where Stewart started off the inning with a single and then Eduardo Nunez singled on a hit and run, setting up 1st and 3rd with only one out for Robinson Cano; who hit an RBI single to right to tie the game at 1-1.
Following Cano's game-tying hit, Astros manager Bo Porter took the rookie pitcher out for reliever Chia-Jen Lo, who proceeded to walk Alfonso Soriano, setting up a bases loaded situation for Lyle Overbay, who lined out on a frozen rope to Altuve at second base, which likely would have been a two-run single if it had gotten past him at second base.
With Zoilo Almonte batting, catcher Matt Pagnozzi tried to throw the ball to second base, but the ball got stuck in his hand and threw the ball into the ground, which allowed Nunez to score from third and allowed the Yankees to take a 2-1 lead.
After that, Pettitte took control of the game and shut the Astros down for the rest of the game, mowing down the Houston offense in the sixth, seventh and eighth inning.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Joe Girardi allowed Pettitte to go back in the game to finish off his masterpiece and allow him to complete the game. Altuve flied out to right field for the first out of the inning and Matt Dominguez flied out to right for the second out, sending the Houston crowd into a frenzy, as they knew they were one out away from the hometown pitcher getting the final win of his career in his backyard.
Pettitte did allow a single to Carter to keep the game going, which prompted Girardi to come out and talk to Pettitte to see if he wanted to stay in the game, which he did, and in the next at-bat, Pettitte got J.D. Martinez to ground out to third to end the game and the Yankees won 2-1, as Pettitte pitched one final gem to end his career with a complete game victory.
The 41-year-old Pettitte tossed all nine innings, allowed one run on five hits, walked two and struck out five and with the win, Pettitte improved to 11-11 on the season. Following the game, Pettitte was greeted by his teammates and then a standing ovation from the crowd in Houston, along with the entire Astros bench, as Pettitte tipped his cap to show his gratitude to everyone in attendance to see his last hurrah in baseball.
With the win, Pettitte earns career win number 256 and ends with a career record of 256-153 in 521 starts through his 18 professional seasons. With the 11-11 record, Pettitte also finishes his career never having a record in a season below the .500 mark, which is an incredible feat to have as a pitcher in the game and something very rare.
The Yankees will play their season finale on Sunday against the Astros, and then Pettitte and Mariano Rivera will both ride off into the sunset together and into retirement from the Yankees, both having outstanding careers during their 18 years in the major leagues.
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