CLEVELAND -- Remember when Andy Pettitte wasn't sure whether he wanted to pitch anymore?
Watching Pettitte, with the cushion of a lead that started at four and bulged to nine runs by the seventh inning, carve up the Cleveland Indians with surgical precision Tuesday night, it's becoming harder and harder to believe that 2011 ever happened or that anything like it will happen again soon.
That was the season Pettitte spent at home with his family in Texas, savoring the joys of fatherhood, husbandry and having a summer off without having to go to work every day.
Well, listen to Pettitte today: "I feel like I can pitch at a high level for a long time. If I didn't think so, I wouldn't have come back."
Assuming he stays healthy -- and that is a big assumption, considering Pettitte has not been able to put in a full 32-start season since 2009, when he was a mere 37 -- I don't think we'll be planning a Pettitte Retirement Tour anytime soon.
Pettitte worked seven innings Tuesday night, allowing just one run -- a solo home run by Asdrubal Cabrera leading off the sixth, when the Yankees were up 9-0 -- and five hits, walking three and striking out four. In two starts this season, Pettitte is now 2-0. He has allowed just two runs in 15 innings for a 1.20 ERA. And even though he almost never hits 90 mph on the radar gun, you always have the feeling that when he is on the mound, he is in complete control of the hitters and the game.
"I felt pretty good," said Pettitte, who will turn 41 on June 15. "I felt like I was a little off as far as my command. But obviously, seven innings, one run, I'll take that."
So will the Yankees. Joe Girardi's theory is that the Yankees' offense is more productive with Pettitte on the mound, because his efficiency ensures the hitters will not be on the field very long between at-bats.
"Andy’s a guy who keeps people involved," Girardi said. "He’s not a guy who’s going to get a lot of long counts, usually. He works fairly quickly, and guys like to work behind him. The long counts can make the innings long for hitters. They don’t feel like they can get in rhythm, and that’s why they like playing behind him."
They might as well get used to it, because two years after his "retirement," Pettitte looks to be here for the long haul.
QUESTION: How long do you think Pettitte will continue to pitch at this level? Over/under on starts this year: 25. How many you got?