A day after throwing his first 75 pitches in his return to the mound, Andy Pettitte reported no problems in the aftermath of his first start since June 27.
“I feel good,” Pettitte said. “It’s good soreness in all the right spots. I was able to do my work and I’ll probably run a little bit tomorrow and do my bullpen. I did my work with the bike today, so it’s good.”
Pettitte reached the limit that the Yankees established for him in five innings and the seven-pitch fifth was his shortest outing.
The next step is a start Monday in Minnesota. Against the Twins, he is expected to throw in the range of 85 to 90 pitches with the idea that if the Yankees make the playoffs his pitch count will not be limited.
“I just don’t know,” he said. “I would love to say that I hope I can get to 85 or 90. I think it dictates how the game goes. I told you all that my legs left me yesterday, but I was able to get through 20 more pitches or so. Hopefully I can do that again. That’s the goal, that’s for sure.”
Ichiro plays against a lefty
It would be difficult for any manager to sit a guy who had four hits the night before regardless of the pitcher and that’s what manager Joe Girardi likely felt when he gave Ichiro the start against lefty Aaron Laffey.
Ichiro’s 49th career four-hit game and first as a Yankee on Wednesday raised his batting average against southpaws 14 points to .264. Last year he was a .281 hitter against lefties, down from .309 in 2010.
“I came here in the middle of this season and have always just wanted to contribute, to help in this pennant race, and today was a great day,” Ichiro said following Wednesday’s game.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he joined Ty Cobb, Johnny Neun and Maury Wills as the fourth player to get seven hits and four stolen bases in the same day.
The last time Ichiro had a four-hit game before Wednesday was June 19. He followed that up by going 11-for-29 in his next seven games.
Ichiro has eight hits in his last 17 at-bats and was trying for consecutive four-hit games for the third time in his career. The other instances were June 6-7, 2006 against Minnesota and July 20-21, 2004 against Oakland.
Ichiro’s ascension into the starting lineup against lefties could mean reduced playing time for Andruw Jones. Jones has one hit in his last 58 at-bats and is 14-for-102 (.137) after the All-Star break and 33-for-165 (.200) against lefties.
“He’s just struggled,” Girardi said. “He had that great month of July for us. The second half has been a struggle for him for whatever reason. It hasn’t been just one pitch that has gotten him out. He’s struggled and you look at what Ich has done, we’re going with the hot hand.”
Teixeira is Tampa-bound
Mark Teixeira didn’t decide to take a September vacation to the Tampa area. Instead, he is going to the Yankee complex there on Monday to appear in some instructional league games to test how his calf has progressed.
Teixeira said he still feels some soreness in the calf that has restricted him to just one game since fouling a ball off it on Aug. 27. He also said that he plans to start hitting in the batting cages underneath the Yankee dugout.
“I think you just have to make sure that he’s ready,” Girardi said. “So far he has not really run. He has not really done a whole lot. He hasn’t done anything. He’ll go to Tampa and we’ll see if we can get our player back.”
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.