San Francisco, CA – The sellout crowd rose to their feet top of the eighth inning. Everyone knew that Yusmeiro Petit was six outs away from making history. After retiring the first twenty-four batters he faced, Petit made it to the ninth inning.
“It was a beautiful game, a tremendous display of pitching,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “He was pounding the strike zone all day, quality strikes with all his pitches. I couldn’t be happier for him, he fought his way to get back up here. He’s done a tremendous job. He’s trying to send a message that this is where he belongs and should be pitching.”
No pressure, as the crowd continued to cheer him on, while both dugouts were watching intensely as the right-hander was getting close to pitching a perfect game. Petit struck out the first batter, then forced Gerardo Parra to ground out to second baseman Marco Scutaro who threw first baseman Brandon Belt.
“I was thinking ‘Someone get on base’,” said Arizona Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson. “I put him up there because he has a lot of experience. He was the guy for the job. My thought is, ‘He’s pitched a great game, now let’s break his heart.”
Eric Chavez was on deck to pinch-hit for Patrick Corbin. Chavez hit a loop single to right field and Hunter Pence fell short in catching the ball which broke up the “no-no”. But unfortunately for Gibson’s D-backs, Yusmeiro’s heart was far from broken.
Facing his former team, Petit was more than pleased to pitch his first career shutout. He was one strikeout away from becoming the second pitcher to pitch a perfect game and the 16th in franchise history to record a “no-no”. San Francisco got the 3-0 win and evened the series.
“The last two outs, I’m thinking this can probably happen,” Yusmeiro said. “I went out there feeling really good, I did realize all of my pitches were working. When [Juan] Perez made that play, that’s when I realized where the game was going and I had to be more careful with my pitches.”
Only twelve other pitchers got close to pitching a perfect game before having it broken up in the ninth. Yu Darvish was the only other player this year who almost pitched a perfect game and did not get the last out. He retired the first 26 batters he faced.
The Giants provided excellent defense to back their ace. Perez had a great diving catch in the sixth off Patrick Corbin’s fly ball to left field. That was probably the closest the D-Backs got to getting on base besides Eric’s single in the ninth. Arizona was no challenge to Yusmeiro especially with him throwing 81 pitches.
“Perez is did good out there,” said Bochy. “You can’t let something happen out there with a guy who hasn’t been out on the field in left field quite a bit.”
“I was hoping to get another chance to make another catch,” Juan said.
Hunter Pence who went 3-for-3 with a walk, double, home run and three runs scored. Struggled getting that last out for Petit in the ninth. He saved Tim Lincecum’s no-hitter earlier in the year with a diving catch but was a tad short in getting the out to give Yusmeiro a perfect game.
“I felt like when it was hit it was one of those dreams where you can’t run fast enough,” said Pence. “Off the bat, it was just a little too far. But I gave it my best effort, and I was just a little bit shy.”
Despite the current World Series champs falling to last place in their division. San Francisco will take nothing away from a arduous season riddled with injuries and setbacks. While they won’t be returning to the postseason, they can still finish the season strong for their fans.
“We like to have some highlights in a tough season and this is one of him,” Bruce said. “The fans were into it and behind him. This felt like a playoff game, they [fans and teammates] were pulling for him, this is a game I’ll remember and I’m sure he will. You get that close, it breaks your heart a little bit.”
“I wasn’t trying to break his heart, I just wanted to break it up,” said Chavez. “It was a pride thing.”