First Pitch: It's up to Big Game Andy

NEW YORK -- Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte has been his vintage self of late.

In his past five starts, Pettitte is 3-0 with a 1.20 ERA, having allowed just four earned runs over that span (30 innings).

The Yankees need the 41-year-old to put together another solid month if they’re going to qualify for the playoffs.

New York sends Pettitte to the mound Friday night against the Red Sox, an opponent he’s had plenty of success against this season.

In three starts versus Boston, Pettitte is 2-1 with a 2.14 ERA. He has allowed just five earned runs and walked three in 21 innings.

The Yankees are coming off a crushing loss to the Red Sox on Thursday night ... well, Friday morning. It’s not a season-ender, but it sure feels like a kick in the gut to a team that is finally healthy and playing great baseball.

The Yankees rallied back from a 7-2 deficit, scoring six runs during a 34-minute seven inning, but couldn’t close the door. Mariano Rivera blew his 15th career save against the Red Sox, who prevailed with a 9-8 victory in 10 innings.

Now, it’s up to Pettitte.

With David Huff starting Saturday and Hiroki Kuroda facing Jon Lester Sunday, the Yankees need Friday night’s game.

Really, they need them all. But Friday night is key. At this stage in the season, given where they are in the standings, losing three out of four or getting swept would be pretty devastating.

So Big Game Andy needs to get it done.

UP NOW: Ian O’Connor chronicles the crushing loss in his column. I wrote Joba Chamberlain and Wallace Matthews wrote Mo and other notes for the blog.

ON DECK: Game 2 of the Yankees-Red Sox series Friday night at 7:05 p.m. It’ll be Pettitte (10-9, 4.01 ERA) against lefty Felix Doubront (10-6, 3.89). Andrew Marchand, Matt Ehalt and I will have you covered for team ESPN New York.