Andy Pettitte has broken Whitey Ford’s record for career strikeouts by a New York Yankees pitcher.
Pettitte struck out Justin Morneau in the fifth inning against Minnesota on Monday night to give him 1,958 as a Yankee. Ford had held the mark since he retired in 1967.
”I feel very fortunate to be around for as long as I have,” Pettitte said after the game, a 10-4 win over the Twins. ”To be able to be mentioned with Whitey’s name is obviously always an honor.”
Pettitte entered the game needing two strikeouts to break the record. He fanned Clete Thomas in the second inning to tie it and then got Morneau swinging in the fifth.
He also entered the game much like the Yankees — not looking like himself. The Yankees had lost 13 of their previous 18 to fall into fourth place in the AL East, and Pettitte looked nothing like the consistent lefty he’s been for most of 18 seasons in the early going Monday night.
He needed 41 pitches to get through the first inning. He gave up a two-run single to Doumit and allowed another run to score when he slipped to the ground while trying to field a comebacker from Oswaldo Arcia. Pettitte threw the ball over first baseman Lyle Overbay’s head, allowing Doumit to score from second base for a 3-1 lead.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who earned his 600th career win, had Preston Claiborne warming in the bullpen in the first, but Pettitte was able to settle down after that rocky inning, breezing through the next four to keep his team in the game.
”You hope that the hard work that they’ve been putting in starts to pay off,” Girardi said. ”Maybe this is the start of something.”
The three-time All-Star broke into the big leagues with the Yankees in 1995 and has spent all but three of his 18 seasons in pinstripes. Pettitte recorded 428 strikeouts in his three seasons with the Houston Astros, 2004-06.