By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 23- After a moving and inspirational retirement tribute to Mariano Rivera attended by capacity crowd at Yankee Stadium, the Yanks and Giants met for the final game of a three-game set.
To add greater meaning and emotion to the contest, Andy Pettitte was starting his final game at Yankee Stadium. The veteran hurler rose to the occasion and fulfilled the hopes of the 49,197 fans in attendance as he did not allow a hit for 5.1 innings.
After the game, Pettitte spoke about the possibility of achieving a no-hitter, “I was worried about the first inning, but after that, it was good. It was good to mentally dream like that [but] I don’t think my body would let me go nine innings.”
The first to reach base off Pettitte was Pablo Sandoval, who drew a walk with two out in the fifth. Rookie shortstop Ehrie Adrianza broke the no-hit bid with a home run to left in the next inning. Adrianza, a major leaguer since September 3rd will long remember his first career home run.
After giving up a lead-off double to Sandoval in the top of the eighth, Pettitte left the game to a standing ovation from the large crowd. The starter, as he promised on Friday, tipped his cap to the fans before entering the dugout. He responded to the prolonged cheers by returning to the field to again remove his cap and wave to the fans.
Pettitte later spoke about the double, “[I am] extremely frustrated that I would make a mistake like that late in the game.
Both manager Joe Girardi and Mariano Rivera thought differently of Pettitte’s performance. Girardi remarked, “I thought he came out and pitched as good a game as he had this year.”
His fellow 2013 retiree, Rivera, stated, “It was extra special the way he pitched today. I wish he could have won the game.”
The disappointment to the veteran lefty and the fans was immediate as reliever David Robertson gave up a double to Tony Abreu after retiring only one batter. The double drove in San Francisco’s second run of the contest.
The day’s honoree, Mariano Rivera, was then called upon to work and retired the following two batters to end the eighth.
The gloom for Yankee fans continued in the bottom of the inning. A lead-off single by Alex Rodriguez was followed by a double by Robinson Cano, but did not result in a run before the inning ended as two runners, pinch runner Zoilo Almonmte and Cano were cut down at the plate.
The Yanks had two men on base in the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth innings, but did not score in any of those innings. They were retired in 1-2-3 order in the ninth. The lone Yankee run of the game came on a lead-off homer by Mark Reynolds in the third frame.
Pettitte, who received the loss, concluded his career without having defeated the Giants. He finished with a 0-4 mark in four starts.
While the defeat does not mathematically eliminate the Yankees from the playoffs, it does make it nearly impossible to achieve. Pettitte commented upon the situation, “This was a big loss for what we’re trying to get into. This hurt our chances a lot. We haven’t played