On Monday night in Minnesota, Andy Pettitte will make his second start since returning from his fractured fibula. As Pettitte builds his arm and leg strength up in what is the equivalent of a spring-training build-up in the middle of a pennant race, he could not be facing a more friendly foe than the Twins.
Since May of 2001, Pettitte is undefeated against the Twins in 11 starts. Combining the regular season and postseason, Pettitte is 9-0 with a 2.74 ERA. If you push the date back to 1999, Pettitte is 12-1 with a 2.51 ERA, having held Minnesota to three or fewer runs in all but three of his 16 starts.
New York Yankees
Pettitte will be limited to around 90 pitches in his second start. During his first time out, he went 75 pitches and threw five scoreless innings against a terrible Toronto lineup. He left a runner on third in three of his five innings. Against Minnesota, Pettitte will face an equally poor lineup.
"I plan on giving us a good start and we need a good start," Pettitte said.
After Monday, Pettitte will get at least one more start in the regular season and the Yankees could line him up for the regular season finale or a possible AL East tie-breaker game against the Orioles, if the two teams tie for the division.
UP NOW: My column on the Yankees' owning the driver's seat in the AL East and maybe the AL, despite their loss Sunday. Mike Mazzeo is all over the blog from Sunday's action.
ON DECK: Wallace Matthews takes control of this plane on the road trip, which sees the Yankees in Minnesota for three and then Toronto for four. The Yankees finish up with Boston at home for three to start October.
IN THE HOLE: Here are your pitching matchups in Minnesota. If you look at the Twins' starters ERA, it is hard to say that anything less than a Yankee sweep will be an underachievement, even if you can't predict baseball, Suzyn. Monday: Pettitte (4-3, 2.97 ERA) vs. Liam Hendriks (1-7, 5.88); Tuesday, Phil Hughes (16-12, 4.05) vs. Esmerling Vazquez (6-4, 6.75 ERA); Wednesday, CC Sabathia (13-6, 3.47) vs. Samuel Deduno (6-5, 4.54).
QUESTION OF THE DAY: What should the Yankees' record be in their final 10 games?