It hardly mattered that the slumping Chicago White Sox didn’t hit the ball hard, or found themselves facing a number of two-strike counts. They turned five first-inning singles into three runs, and the Yankees wouldn’t recover.
The White Sox's 8-1 victory was simply another example of Pettitte being unable to protect the opening inning, in which he has posted an 8.55 ERA this season.
“It’s frustrating and there is just no other way to say it,” Pettitte said. “It’s just so disappointing. Yeah, I didn’t feel like they hit the ball hard. The second inning I left a couple of balls in the zone. We’re trying to win series, and for me to go out there and to again give up three in the first and not be able to get through the game with us struggling [Sunday] as far as our starter not going deep, it was so disappointing man.”
The White Sox’s first-inning three-spot means that Pettitte has now allowed a run in the first inning in each of his past seven starts, which is a franchise record. He has allowed 13 runs in his other 32 2/3 innings during the stretch.
The 2 2/3-inning outing was not only a season low, it was Pettitte’s shortest outing since July 18, 2010, when he went 2 1/3 innings against the Tampa Bay Rays.
“Obviously, after those first couple of innings, I ran out of gas,” Pettitte said. “I just can’t work like I used to and I can’t be throwing 60 pitches in the first two innings of a start anymore. I got a little fatigued there and couldn’t get through that third inning.”
Despite the short night, Pettitte still threw 75 pitches, the second time in 20 starts this year that he didn’t reach the 80-pitch mark.
“When you look at the first inning, they didn’t hit him hard. When you look at the second inning, they didn’t hit him hard, they were just well placed,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “I think the first two innings wore him out. He threw a ton of pitches. The first inning was a jam shot here, a jam shot there and balls just through the infield.”
The White Sox managed to unload on the left-hander despite entering the game having lost 10 consecutive games for the first time since 1976. They had also lost 13 of their past 14 games and 16 of their past 19. Over their past four games, the White Sox had scored a combined four runs.
Since June 14, Pettitte has now lost six of his past 10 starts, going 2-6 with a 5.64 ERA.
Despite the quick outing, Pettitte also allowed 11 hits, making it the sixth time in his past 10 outings he has allowed at least nine hits. He also has allowing at least four earned runs in six of those 10 games.
“I’ve been giving up most of the runs in my last few starts on balls that I was trying to sink and they cut,” Pettitte said. “All of them were good, away from righties. I just wasn’t able to get them out, man. I could have probably told these guys what was coming and they probably wouldn’t have gotten 11 hits in 2 2/3 innings. That’s how frustrating it was.”