Andy Pettitte knows a thing or two about pressure packed games.
He won Game 5 of the 1996 World Series, dueling future Hall of Famer John Smoltz 1-0 in a must win game.
He won the clinching games of the 1998 and 2009 World Series for the Yankees. He also pitched 7 solid innings in the clinching game of the 2000 World Series.
In the wake of Sept. 11th, he was the MVP of the 2001 ALCS, winning twice against the 116 win Mariners squad.
He won critical game 2’s in the Division Series, LCS and World Series of 2003, each time keeping the Yankees out of an 0-2 hole.
As a member of the Astros, he won the first game of the 2005 Division Series, taking home field away from the Braves.
He went 5-0 in the 2009 post season and has made 40 post season starts over 28 series in 12 different Octobers.
The man has experienced pressure and memorable thrills.
But how could ANY of them compare to pitching the AA Eastern League playoffs last night as a member of the Trenton Thunder?
With ice water in his veins in front of 8,072 fans, Pettitte stared down the New Hampshire Fisher Cats for 4 shutout innings in his rehab start.
Forget pitching in the Bronx against the Red Sox or Philadelphia.
The kiln in which champions are finished is in Trenton… and no team is a bigger test for someone’s resolve and place in history than the Fisher Cats.
Pettitte has answered his critics and shown that no, the Fisher Cats do NOT have his number.
After this, the Yankees know they finally have a champion who has earned his pinstripes.
Hats off to you Pettitte. Everything after this will be gravy.