In a world where almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, Yusmeiro Petit came within one strike of the 24th Perfect Game in MLB history Friday night, throwing a complete game one-hitter in the Giants’ 3-0 win against the Diamondbacks.
“He looked like he was trying to send a message that this is where he belongs,” said manager Bruce Bochy.
Petit was lights-out throughout the entire game, throwing only 95 pitches – 69 of which were strikes. The vibe in the ballpark was amplified in the sixth, when Bruce Bochy replaced left fielder Brett Pill with Juan Perez, who made a diving catch to retire Patrick Corbin and keep the hit count at zero.
“Every time you go in that situation you got to make it, that catch,” said Perez.
It was that catch where Petit realized that he was pitching a perfecto. He sat down batter after batter, and superstitions ran wild.
Hunter Pence said, “[Roger] Kieschnick told me he didn’t move for six innings. He wanted to go to the bathroom, but he wasn’t moving. You don’t mess with it when there’s no hits, you try not to even smile, blink, just play hard.”
The magic lasted until the last out of the ninth inning, when Eric Chavez came to the plate to pinch hit for Corbin. On a two out, 3-2 outside fastball, Chavez knocked the first hit of the game just in front of the glove of the diving Pence.
“Honestly, it felt like when it was hit, it was just like one of those dreams where you can’t run fast enough,” said Pence. ”I gave it my best effort, it just wasn’t enough.”
Pence scored all three of the Giants’ runs on Friday night, after a leadoff single and double and eighth-inning home run. Pence extended his streak to 15 games in which he’s reached base safely via hit or walk, and is now batting .392 (20-for-51) in that time. His 34 doubles are tied for the fifth-most in the National League.
Hector Sanchez knocked in Pence both times, and was a major factor both at and behind the plate. He said he tried to switch up the pitches a bit more after facing the Diamondbacks just last week. While it was disappointing, he echoed his teammates in just saying everyone was pulling for Petit.
“We want to finish it off, we want to get the perfect game,” said Sanchez. “It’s amazing though, when you think about it…When you’re playing the game, you try to be more focused.”
Once Chavez reached first base, Petit said he got even more focused because he wanted to finish the game. After the final out, he threw up his arms in celebration, as if he had accomplished his intended feat. When asked about the gesture, his translator explained that he had just thrown his first complete game in the big leagues and he felt the same as if he had thrown a no-hitter.
Petit’s complete game was just the second of the Giants’ season – the first being Tim Lincecum’s no-hitter. Apparently this year, it’s a requirement to be nearly perfect to get that far. Petit became the twelfth player to lose a perfect game with two outs in the ninth inning, and the second this season. Yu Darvish had the same experience earlier this year.
Pence said the team applauded Petit after the game. He refused to go any further – dodging a question regarding a certain beer shower – except to say it was an thrill.
“It was an adrenaline rush. It was exciting. Petit really put on a tremendous show, it was amazing to be a part of it’s moments like those where every day when you come to the park, there’s an opportunity for something special to happen, and it did.”
The Giants have found their swing as of recently, with several players making an impression. Angel Pagan is batting .313 during his current eleven-game hitting streak. Pablo Sandoval has now hit safely in eight straight games, batting .406 during that time. While San Francisco remains at the bottom of the National League West, they are 34-27 against their NL West opponents this season.
Tomorrow the Giants will take on the Diamondbacks for Game 3 of this four game weekend series. Matt Cain will return from the first DL stint of his career, taking on Brandon McCarthy at 6:05pm.