One-Hit Wonder

On August 14, 1971 Bob Gibson took the mound at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. Gibson had just won his 200th game of his career earlier in the month and like was usually the case; the St. Louis Cardinals were heavily favored to win with their ace on the mound. The Cardinals hurler was indeed dominating striking out 10 Pirates that day including two strikeouts of Willie Stargell the final one ending the game.

As the dust settled, Gibson had pitched a no-hitter beating Pittsburgh 11-0. It was the first no-hitter against the Pirates at home in more than 60 years. It was one of the most masterful pitching performances in the modern era of baseball.

After a four-game series with the New York Mets the Arizona Diamondbacks traveled to Pittsburgh to play three games against the Pirates. Looking over the pitching match-up for game one it clearly favored the home team.

Zach Duke has been the most consistent pitcher for the Pirates this season. He is a hard-throwing left handed pitcher; the kind of pitcher the Diamondbacks hitters struggle against. His opponent was the Diamondbacks fifth starter, Yusmeiro Petit. This game was a rematch between these two pitchers who faced each other on July 24 at Chase Field.

During their first meeting Duke held the advantage pitching 6.1 innings allowing 3 runs on 10 hits. While these stats do not look dominating, he did what he needed to do to win that game. Petit on the other hand had a typical game for him. After starting off well he ran into problems and gave up 6 runs in just 4.1 innings work.

The Pirates won the game at Chase Field beating the Diamondbacks 10-3. At the time Petit was winless and many inside and outside of the organization was calling for him to be demoted to Triple-A or released.

In his last start something clicked with Yusmeiro Petit and he looked like a completely different pitcher. Against the world champion Philadelphia Phillies; Petit pitched a masterful game lasting 6 innings and allowing only 4 hits while striking out a career-high 8 batters. He was rewarded with his first win of the season.

When the Diamondbacks took the field in the bottom of the first inning at PNC Park everyone wondered which Yusmeiro Petit would show up. They didn’t have to wait long for an answer. Petit retired the first three batters he faced.

For the first two innings it looked like a pitcher’s duel. Each starter looked quite dominating against the opposing offense. In the third inning the Diamondbacks cranked up the power station when second baseman Ryan Roberts hit the first of his two home runs.

With a 1-0 lead, no one expected it would be enough to hold up with Petit on the mound. Given his previous outings; everyone anticipated the Pirates catching up with him and scoring early and often but not this night.

As the game progressed; the number of zeroes accumulating on the scoreboard was unexpected. Under the glare of a full moon Yusmeiro Petit began to resemble Hall of Fame St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson. Granted he was not mowing down Pirates hitters with a nasty fastball but he was retiring them nonetheless.

During his major league career Petit had never lasted past the seventh inning. Tonight though he found himself still in the game at that juncture and he had still not allowed a single hit. Going into the eighth inning Petit was clearly laboring.

The first batter in the eighth inning was second baseman Ramon Vazquez. Vazquez battled fouling off pitches and stretching Petit’s pitch count. With a full count home plate umpire called what looked like a third strike a ball allowing Vazquez to walk.

The next batter for the Pirates was shortstop Ronny Cedeno. Petit jumped ahead throwing 2 quick strikes. On a 1-2 count Cedeno singled between third base and short for the game’s first hit.

Petit would retire the next three batters and the Pirates would strand two runners. Pittsburgh would not get another base runner for the remainder of the game. The Diamondbacks would relieve Petit with Leo Rosales in the ninth inning to preserve the one-hitter.

While there were several Diamondbacks who had memorable games, this night belonged to Yusmeiro Petit. He came one hit away from having his name mentioned alongside Bob Gibson.

It just goes to show, anything can happen in a baseball game and sometimes the most unassuming player can become the hero. Hopefully these last two outings will allow Petit to reach his potential and gain the confidence necessary to be a strong member of the starting rotation. Clearly after tonight’s performance all eyes will be on Petit’s next start to see what happens next.

1 Comment

  1. I Hate Brooms

    After beginning the road trip 6-1 the Diamondbacks were now scrambling to find a way to stop the bleeding and somehow salvage one win in the series. On the mound for the Diamondbacks was the newly dominant Yusmeiro Petit who…

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