If you were a Hollywood scriptwriter, the outcome of last night's Yankees/Astros game is pretty close to how you choose to have your gritty veteran pitcher character's career come to an end. Though, if it were a true Hollywood ending, the complete game victory would have come in the seventh game of a World Series, and in front of Yankee fans in Yankee Stadium. Unfortunately, the Yankees' 2013 season will be ending in the regular season so that scenario wasn't an option this time. In any case, last night was close to perfect and it was the ending Yankee fans wanted to see for Andy Pettitte.
The scene was set earlier this week when the Yankees were officially eliminated from postseason contention so instead of gearing up from one last playoff run, Pettitte's last start would be in front of his hometown crowd in Houston, taking place in the only other Stadium he called home in his career. Again, it was close to perfect.
Most Yankee fans were hoping and expecting a good game because Pettitte was facing the 51-109 Houston Astros but they probably weren't expecting to witness his first complete game in seven years.
Pettitte kept the Astros off the board until the fourth inning. With Jose Altuve on second base, Pettitte got Chris Carter to ground to shortstop but Altuve was already running on the play, Brendan Ryan couldn't get him at third and opted to get the sure out at first. Lyle Overbay tried to get Altuve at the plate but the diminutive Astro was too fast and scored easily to give Houston the 1-0 lead.
The Yankees were held at bay by Astros' starter Paul Clemens - no relation to Roger - and weren't able to score until the sixth inning. They tied the game on a Robinson Cano RBI single that scored Eduardo Nunez. Their second run came after a goofy play by Matt Pagnozzi. With Chia-Jen Lo pitching in relief of Clemens, he delivered a pitch to Zoilo Almonte and Pagnozzi was trying to throw to second to catch Cano sleeping but instead, he spiked the ball and as it flew toward the backstop, Nunez run home and was able to get just under the tag of Lo who covered home on the play. The Yankees took the 2-1 lead and it's all the needed to win thanks to Pettitte.
When the bottom of the ninth was about to begin and Pettitte grabbed his mitt and put his cap on, I could feel the tears building up in my eyes because it didn't seem real to me. How could Andy Pettitte's career be coming an end? How did Mariano Rivera's career end a few days ago? How did we all get so old?
Pettitte got Altuve and Matt Dominguez to fly out for the first two outs of the inning but both of those balls were struck pretty hard and it was clear that Andy was starting to lose a little bit of zip on his pitches. Chris Carter came up and instead of being polite and being the third out, he decided to hit a single to left field on pitch 113 from Pettitte.
Joe Girardi ambled toward the mound and the crowd started booing. Before the eighth inning, Pettitte had told Girardi that if he ran into trouble that he should bring the kid in. He meant David Robertson who is in line to be the heir apparent to Mariano Rivera. When Girardi reached the mound, he told Pettitte it was his call saying, "Tell me what you want to do." Pettitte answered with, "I want to try and finish this thing." Girardi then turned on his heel and headed back to the dugout as quickly as he walked out of it. This was Pettitte's last game, of course he was going to try for the complete game because the Hollywood ending had to happen.
J.D. Martinez stepped in to face Pettitte and after two pitches, Martinez became a footnote in history: Who was the last batter of Andy Pettitte's career? Martinez grounded to third, Nunez threw to first and it was game over, career over, Yankees win.
Pettitte smiled and yelled with glee, his teammates congratulated him and after a polite shove by Girardi, Pettitte went back out to the mound as the crowd at Minute Maid Park, both Astros fans and Yankees fans and the Houston Astros team gave him an ovation.
Pettitte said after the game, "It was almost a fairy tale, man."
And with that, Andy Pettitte's career is now over, man.