Andy Pettitte has won 18 postseason games in his career, a feat widely attributed to the quality of teams he's played on and his general kick assery. His most recent postseason win however, was hardly guaranteed, as Andy did not feel he had his best stuff.
"It was a real grind," explained Pettitte. "I had nothing. Literally nothing. Posada would put the sign down, and in my head I'm going, 'Really, what makes you think I can throw that?'"
"Early on I was calling for the fastball and cutter a lot, but I could see Andy was struggling," said Posada. "But Andy's a champion, he wasn't fazed. He got through it."
Andy realized early on that he would be working without his best stuff. The key, he explained, was making adjustments.
"I wasn't hitting my spots. I was having trouble with my secondary pitches, throwing them for strikes. So I had to adjust. I just started making up pitches on the fly. I threw a cut fastball, curve combination. I called it 'the Haymaker,' because I imagine that's what making hay is like. I also threw one I called 'the Eliminator.' It was basically a fastball right at someone. Figured I would hit them before they hit me."
Told that he didn't have any hit batters in the game, Andy replied, "I told you I was having trouble with location."
Dealing with Pettitte's ineffectiveness also required some creativity on the part of his battery mate, Jorge Posada. "I stopped calling the game in about the second inning. The Phillies steal the signs anyway, so I would just wait for someone to get on base, give them the finger, and then set up and wait for Andy to throw the ball."
The tactic worked, distracting the baserunners and limiting their base stealing attempts. However, the unorthodox game calling strategy did result in a World Series record high 5 tattles by the Phillies, who complained often to the umpires about Posada's new method of pitch suggestion.
Whether Andy comes back is something he has yet to decide. Retirement has loomed large for Andy for the last few seasons, and a truncated season might be an option to consider, keeping him fresher later into October. For now, he is just enjoying the moment.
"We set out to do this in Spring Training and we did it. I'm just glad the Haymaker and Eliminator worked so well."