When it was clear that Andy Pettitte would not be returning to the mound for the eighth inning in last night's game 2 of the ALDS, I must admit that I was a little disappointed. As I had predicted the day before, Andy sparkled once again, mind you with a few hitches in his giddyup, but he sparkled nonetheless. It would have been pretty cool to see him pitch through the eighth, thus handing the ball to Mariano Rivera to close. So, yeah, I was a little disappointed.
But like this ALDS series for the Minnesota Twins, my disappointment didn't last very long.
Kerry Wood proved to be the right call for Joe Girardi in choosing his eighth inning guy. In game 1, Wood pitched two-thirds of an inning, allowing one hit, no runs, and one strikeout. In last night's game, he upped the ante by striking out two Minnesota batters and allowing no hits, pitching a full inning. He now sports a .167 ERA with two holds in this ALDS series.
In his postseason career as both a starter and reliever, Woods boasts a 3.52 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 38.1 innings over 10 games. Not too shabby for a guy who seemingly faded into obscurity following Tommy John surgery while a pitcher with the Chicago Cubs, after having been the toast of Chi-Town during his "lights out" rookie season in 1998.
Wood has clearly tapped in to his old self, baffling Twins batters with a fastball that seemed to disappear once it reached the plate. He has a distinct "across-the-body" delivery which allows for great depth of his pitches and deception of his breaking ball.
Three months ago, the Yankees' biggest issue was their bullpen. But since coming to the team, Wood has provided the depth and experience that makes this bullpen a force to be reckoned with down this stretch in these playoffs.
Ahhh...I'm smellin' victory on Saturday.