Andy Pettitte: I still believe

July, 31, 2013
7/31/13
2:27
AM ET
Andy Pettitte Richard Mackson/USA TODAY SportsAndy Pettitte expects the Bombers to be playing postseason baseball this October.
LOS ANGELES -- Depite pitching his best game in nearly two months, Andy Pettitte failed to get a win for the third straight start, mainly because the anemic Yankees offense failed to make much of a dent in Zack Greinke.

And with Tuesday night's 3-2 walk-off loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Yankees dropped 8½ games behind the first-place Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East and despite being just 3½ games out of the second wild-card spot, must leapfrog three teams to get there.

Still, Pettitte, who knows a thing or two about playing in October, fully expects to play in another one this season.

After having to settle for a no-decision despite holding the red-hot Dodgers to two runs over seven innings, Pettitte was forthright when asked if he was finding it difficult to stay positive as the Yankees head into the final third of the season.

"No, not for me," he said. "I don’t know about everybody else, but I’m good. You’re not gonna beat me down. I’m gonna stay positive, you know what I mean? I’m gonna run this through to the end."

Pettitte was then asked to explain what his optimism was based on.

"I just feel like this team’s got a lot of experience, and hopefully we can just will this thing, will it into the playoffs," he said. "I know I expect to go. And I’m sure and I hope everyone else in this room feels the same way. I think the power of belief is awfully big and awfully important. And I believe in this club. I believe we got the guys in this room to do it, and we’re going to continue to try to push each other and get it done. And the only way to do that is to stay positive and not let anything [negative] get inside here and interfere with that. That’s not a guarantee but we’re going to stay positive, try to grind this thing out and hopefully get rolling."

For the sixth straight start, Pettitte allowed a first-inning run -- the first time in his career he has had such a streak -- on a double that was almost a home run by Yasiel Puig and an RBI single by Hanley Ramirez. He then surrendered a solo home run to Juan Uribe in the second, and needed a perfect throw by Ichiro Suzuki to bail him out in the third.

But from there, he got rolling, allowing just two singles until he left for a pinch hitter in the seventh. It was Pettitte's best outing since he held the Seattle Mariners to one run in 7 1/3 innings back on June 8.

But, as many Yankees starters have this season, Pettitte was pushing a boulder uphill as the Yankees' offense could do no more with Greinke, who also went seven and allowed just two runs.

“There’s no doubt it’s getting late," Pettitte said. "We need to win. All you can do now is look to tomorrow and try to build on things. We got Derek [Jeter] back in the lineup, we got [Alfonso Soriano] back in the lineup. Obviously I feel a little better about the way that I’m throwing the ball. Our bullpen has been awesome all year and it’s going to be awesome. We just have to stay positive and keep trying to get something rolling."

Pettitte, who turned 41 in June, even kept his optimistic outlook when a questioner broached the delicate subject of the considerable age on the Yankees' roster.

"I mean, that's what it’s all about," he said. "I know the older guys that you’re talking about, Jeter and Mariano [Rivera] and I know what they’re made out of, and we expect to get there. I know they’re looking to get there, and I wouldn’t have come back if I wasn't ready to go through the grind and try to help push this team. Hopefully we can get it done and hopefully it starts tomorrow."
Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Jacoby Ellsbury
BA HR RBI R
.271 16 70 71
OTHER LEADERS
HRB. McCann 23
RBIB. McCann 75
RB. Gardner 87
OPSB. Gardner .749
WM. Tanaka 13
ERAH. Kuroda 3.71
SOH. Kuroda 146