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Sunday, May 5, 2013
Pettitte searching for answers

By Matt Ehalt

This is a foreign feeling for Andy Pettitte.

His release point is off. His command is gone. The ball doesn't come off his fingertips the way he desires.

Andy Pettitte
Andy Pettitte is suddenly struggling -- the Yankees have lost his past three starts.
It's a battle on the mound he's rarely faced in his 18 years in the big leagues.

"It's been a long, long time since I haven't had a feel for my pitches," Pettitte said.

Pettitte is searching for answers after a second straight poor start, as he lasted just five innings and gave up four runs in the Yankees' 5-4 loss to the A's on Sunday. He has now given up 11 earned runs in 9 1/3 innings spanning his past two starts. He received a no-decision on Sunday.

"When you try to go out there and you try to trust what you just did and it ends up being right down the middle, that's a bad feeling and it's hard to trust that," Pettitte said. "Pitching is a grind and a battle and I love the battle -- it would just be nice to have a little bit of an idea of where the ball's going. Especially everything not feeling really good. It's a little bit difficult right now and hopefully it will get a little bit better."

In his previous start against the Astros on April 29, Pettitte had his worst outing of the year, giving up seven earned runs and 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings. On Sunday, Pettitte labored through five innings, tossing 100 pitches. He served up two home runs, and the damage could have been worse had he not worked out of some tense situations in the first two innings.

Pettitte believes the problems stem from his release point, saying the ball isn't coming out right. He mentioned that his curveball and cutter are going sideways at times, compared to the desired effect. Pettitte struggled to get ahead of hitters Sunday and put the leadoff runner on in each of the first four innings.

"It's real difficult. The other stuff is kind of floating around. My cutter is non-existent right now, a pitch that in certain counts I want to go to," Pettitte said. "Right now it's awfully difficult because when I do throw a good one, and then I trust the next one and it's a bad pitch, it's hard to trust it again. I've got to figure this out and figure it out hopefully pretty quick."

Sunday's start baffled Pettitte because he felt he had a great bullpen session before the game, but it didn't end up translating to a good outing. He said he was "sick to my stomach" after his previous outing against Houston, and seemingly couldn't believe he followed that clunker up with another one.

Manager Joe Girardi said he's not worried about Pettitte, but the veteran is adamant that he needs to get this resolved quickly.

"It's frustrating. The guys battle and this is a game you feel like if you can stay in there and give us some length like I normally would, (losing pitcher Boone Logan) is out there in a situation he would never be in, and obviously you felt like you're letting everybody down," Pettitte said. "I need to get it right and fix it as soon as possible, that's for sure."