Andy Pettitte: “I’m obviously pleasantly surprised”

After racking up 10 strikeouts in a vintage performance that had the Yankees raving, Andy Pettitte finally broke from his familiar refrain of that this was exactly what he expected, and allowed that he’s actually “pleasantly surprised” at how this comeback is going.

Thanks in large part to a biting slider, Pettitte has won three of his five starts since rejoining the Yankees, limiting the Rays to two hits in 7 1/3 scoreless innings tonight.

“All I remember is how I felt when I left. When I left, I probably felt like I was as good as I’ve ever been, when I retired. It’s kind of weird for me to sit here and say that’s what I thought I was going to be, because it was at age 38 then and close to 40 right now. But the feel for all my pitches has just gotten better, I feel like.

“I feel like as long as I can stay healthy and you carry somewhat of a velocity on your fastball to keep hitters honest, if I can keep moving the ball around and keep the feel of my pitches, I feel like I’m going to be how I was when I left. I’ve said it; you don’t really know what to expect coming back, but I’m obviously pleasantly surprised so far that I’ve been like I’ve been.”

Pettitte’s 10 strikeouts were his most since exactly two years ago, on June 5, 2010 at Toronto. They were his most strikeouts in a home game as a Yankee since July 6, 2003 vs. Boston, when he also struck out 10 batters across the street.

Here’s Russell Martin:

“I feel like on days that he pitches, it gives a different energy to the team. It’s remarkable. It seems like he hasn’t missed a beat. I think he’s just at the surface for us right now; the tip of the iceberg. I think he’s going to have a great season for us and keep doing what he’s doing right now. Hopefully he’ll just stay healthy.”

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