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YANKEES FYI

Andy Pettitte has chance to become winningest postseason pitcher

The left-hander, who is tied with John Smoltz for most playoff wins, takes the mound tonight in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series in hopes of pitching the Yankees to the World Series.

October 24, 2009|Ben Bolch and Kevin Baxter

NEW YORK — The scenario tonight couldn't be better for Andy Pettitte. He will be taking the mound in front of a raucous Yankee Stadium crowd with a chance to pitch his team into the World Series for the first time since 2003.

And if he succeeds, the victory will make him the winningest pitcher in postseason history. But only one of those things matters to Pettitte.

"The records are nice, but it will mean an awful lot to try to close this thing out and help this team get to where we want to be, and that's to another World Series," said Pettitte, who is 15-9 with a 3.90 ERA in 37 postseason starts, tying him with John Smoltz for most playoff wins. "You learn to just appreciate the opportunity that you have to be able to do it again with this club and how special it is with this franchise and these fans."

Less than 10 months ago, Pettitte didn't figure to be a Yankee, much less the guy with the task of pitching the team to a league title. Although he had won 29 games for them the previous two seasons, the Yankees weren't interested in giving Pettitte the money he wanted to return. The left-hander threatened to retire, but just before spring training he signed an incentive-laden deal that pays him $10.5 million this season, plus any playoff winnings.

"That's why I came back. I wanted to help this organization win another championship," he said. "I felt like this is where we'd be. It's been a good year and it's worked out."

Rainy day feeling

Last weekend, weather forecasters said rain would hamper, if not wash out, Games 1 and 2 of the ALCS at Yankee Stadium. But those fears proved unwarranted and with the exception of a short-lived drizzle, both games went off without a problem.

Now with the series back in New York, more dire forecasts are being made. And those, too, may not materialize. Early Friday the chance of rain for this evening's first pitch was put at more than 90%. By Friday evening, however, some forecasts had dropped it to a 10% chance.

Either way, Manager Joe Girardi said he's sticking with his plan to have Pettitte start Game 6 followed by CC Sabathia in Game 7 on Sunday, if that game is necessary.

Sabathia has already beaten the Angels twice in the series, the second time going eight innings on three days rest, leading to speculation that if rain delayed Saturday's game, Girardi might use his ace again. But the Yankees manager said Friday that speculation was flat-out wrong.

Short hops

Although Friday's workout was not mandatory, most of the Yankees regulars took part. "In the playoffs it's not optional," catcher Jorge Posada said.

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ben.bolch@latimes.com

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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