Petit’s fairytale falls short

Yesterday, in talking with a friend about the reemergence of Brian Wilson with the Dodgers, the point was made that baseball doesn’t always write the fairytale ending.

In the case of Wilson, it was a romantic notion that the former Giants’ closer would return from injury to pitch San Francisco back to the playoffs. Not only was that notion not to be. Wilson went on to sign with the archrival Dodgers, leaving many a stomach turning among embittered Giants’ fans.

Yusmeiro Petit’s one-hit performance Friday night was the embodiment of that very feeling. In just his fourth appearance with the Giants, Petit was a strike away from pitching the 24th perfect game in Major League history. But the fairytale fell just out of reach of a diving attempt by right fielder Hunter Pence as Eric Chavez’s 3-2 swing of the bat dropped in for the only Diamondbacks hit of the game.

And despite the Giants persevering for a 3-0 win, the agony of defeat still overwhelming won the day.

However, like the Wilson situation, the way Petit’s outing played out shouldn’t diminish what an outstanding accomplishment preceded it. In the case of Wilson, he should always be heralded as a Giant, even when he ultimately returns to pitch against San Francisco. His place in baseball history by slamming the door on the 2010 World Series with the most important strikeout in Giants’ history is nothing short of iconic. Even Dodger blue shouldn’t diminish that.

In the case of Petit’s win Friday night, that was one heck of a ballgame. And nobody, I mean nobody, could have seen that coming. That’s really saying something, with the Giants starting rotation being stellar as it has been in recent years. Almost every game the Giants play, they run a pitcher out there who is capable of throwing a no-hitter.

Petit, however, who had never thrown a complete game in the big leagues prior to Friday, was, in essence, the Giants ninth starter just a few short months ago. When Ryan Vogelsong went on the disabled list with a broken pitching hand in May, he was initially replaced by Mike Kickham, before Chad Gaudin moved from the bullpen to anchor the rotation.

Then, when Eric Surkamp made a spot start in a doubleheader against the Reds on July 23, Petit made his Giants debut in relief, showing he had the stamina to compete for a rotation spot by throwing 5 1/3 innings.

But less than a week later, Petit was designated for assignment, and wouldn’t make his first start of the season until Aug. 28. It’s still unfathomable to me that another team didn’t claim Petit off waivers – a mandatory part of the process after a player is designated for assignment – and yes, I felt that way when it happened. Since returning to the 25-man roster, the 28-year-old journeyman right-hander has proved an ace up the Giants’ sleeve, going 3-0 in three starts, including Friday’s unreal one-hitter.

When it’s all said and done, Friday’s outing won’t be remembered as one for the ages. But for those who were involved in it, it sure felt like one every step of the way.


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