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1998 Playoffs

'An enormous heart'

Focused Pettitte comes up big in Game 4

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Posted: Thursday October 22, 1998 02:52 AM

  Andy of old: Pettitte regained his 1996 form in the postseason AP

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Andy Pettitte was worried. He didn't want his father watching television, even though his son was trying to win the World Series clincher for one of baseball's greatest teams.

"If something bad happened, I didn't want him to end up back in the hospital," Pettitte said.

Tom Pettitte's newly fixed heart was just fine. And his son showed a lot of his own heart Wednesday night, putting everything aside and pitching the Yankees over the top.

He didn't let his father's health bother him, didn't worry about his season-long problems with control.

With the Yankees trying to sweep the World Series for the first time in 48 years, Pettitte pushed the Padres over the edge, throwing 7 1-3 shutout innings in a 3-0, Series-ending win over San Diego.

"I know there's an enormous heart there," said Yankees manager Joe Torre.

Pettitte allowed just five hits, got out of a bases-loaded jam in the second, came up with his best game of the year.

"It has been an up-and-down year for me, a lot of things have gone on and the situation with my dad. I'm just glad I was able to throw a great game," Pettitte said as the Yankees pranced around the clubhouse, celebrating their second Series title in three seasons. "He's at home watching. I know he's at home with a big smile on his face."

All year long, Pettitte was plagued by self doubt, a perplexed look across his boyish face as he tried to explain a string of off nights.

Pettitte (with catcher Joe Girardi) played well despite an 11-day layoff AP 

"I tend to think about the bad things instead of the good things a little too much," he admitted.

His Series-winning performance came after an 11-day layoff, with his father at home in Texas a week after emergency heart surgery.

"Just tell him I love him," Pettitte told a national TV audience. "Glad I talked to him today and he was able to go home."

His father failed to convince doctors to postpone surgery until after the Series. Andy went back to Houston after the AL championship series, arriving back at Yankee Stadium just before the World Series opener.

"Andy Pettitte has a history of throwing great in big games," World Series MVP Scott Brosius said. "When we went out today, we had a great feeling with him on the mound. He had a focus and he wasn't going to accept losing tonight."

The 26-year-old left-hander was just 16-11 with a 4.24 ERA in the regular season, his fewest wins since 1995 and the highest ERA of his major league career. He repeatedly fell behind hitters, nibbling at the plate instead of attacking.

He beat Texas in Game 2 of the division series, allowing just a run and three hits in seven innings, but bombed out in the third game against Cleveland, putting the Yankees' season in danger when he gave up six runs and eight hits in 4 2-3 innings, allowing the Indians to take a 2-1 series lead.

But on Wednesday, he looked like the Pettitte who went 21-8 two years ago. Everything was right again. He said he "felt great from the get-go."

And with that, one of the greatest teams ever finished its historic season.

"He can match the best of them," Torre said. "As soon as I saw the first pitch he threw, I knew we were in good shape. He let it go, trusted his stuff."

 

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