Pitching Record Competes with Ice Cream Incident for VZ Headlines
As we wave goodbye to Johan Santana (forever?) and Anibal Sanchez (for the season?), another VZ pitcher, Yusmeiro Petit of the San Francisco Giants set a remarkable record on Thursday–he retired his 46th batter in a row. Yusmeiro’s a true journeyman hurler, a right-hander who’s plied the Left Coast for a variety of major and minor league teams over the past decade; from Reno, to Tacoma, to Tucson, to Oaxaca, Mexico. He has a lifetime ERA of 4.79 and a losing career record. He’ll turn 30 in November, and isn’t likely to be an All Star anytime in the future.
But now, he has a record that will be very hard to beat. 46 straight batters out–no walks, no hits, no errors. That’s just over 15 innings without anyone reaching base, something that not even Johnny Vander Meer came close to approaching in 1938 when he threw consecutive no-hitters (Johnny was a bit wild, admittedly, and walked 11 combined in those two games). The former record holder, Mark Buehrle, had a perfect game as part of his 45-batter streak.
Yusmeiro’s historic run began at Philadelphia on July 22 with the last out of a not-so-great start. Then came six turns out of the bullpen: 2 innings; 2 innings; 1 inning; 1 inning; 2 more innings; 4 1/3 innings. And nobody reached base: not a Dodger, nor a Pirate, not a nominal Brewer, nary a Royal, neither Cub nor National. 12 2/3 innings of absolutely perfect relief pitching. In fact, Thursday’s game against the Rockies was the only tangible result on Petit’s ledger from the record run, with YP picking up a W.
For Thursday’s game, Petit was back as a starter, replacing the enigmatic Tim Lincecum, and when he struck out Charlie Culberson in the third inning, he had the record. The fans at the Bay Area Rotating -Telecom-Company-Named Stadium stood in unison for the achievement. Then, opposing pitcher Jordan Lyles roped a double, and it was all over.
Petit shared some champagne in the clubhouse after the game with his teammates. For one afternoon, the big righty from torrid Maracaibo was part of baseball history.
From the subime to the ridiculous: in a rehab assignment at Boise, Jesus Montero of the Mariners was sitting in the dugout when someone sent him an ice cream sandwich from the stands. Nice surprise, right? Not so much. The benefactor was a Mariners’ scout who had been heckling Montero about his weight. The zaftig catcher’s response: he went into the stands with a bat and the ice cream sandwich. He threw said delicacy at his tormentor and was prevented from further dessert-related violence by Hawks’ personnel. (reports could not confirm whether the sandwich was vanilla or chocolate.)
Both Montero and the scout are temporarily suspended by the M’s.
To quote from The Big Lebowski: you don’t f*** with the Jesus man!
Less than three seasons ago, Montero was crushing home runs out of Yankee Stadium and looking like the catcher of the future in the Bronx. But, as my buddy EC from Astoria likes to say, “SSS, dude.” (small sample size.)
A few seasons later Jesus turned up at Mariners’ camp 40 pounds overweight and apparently not too bothered about it. To stay at the Major League level, some commitment is necessary. Perhaps this is a good time for Montero’s, dare we say, “come to Jesus” talk with the Seattle management. He should remember that’ s he’s not even the only Mariners’ catcher named Jesus: J. Sucre of Cumana made the Bigs last season at age 25 (a year younger than the “other” Jesus) after eight minor league seasons and is ready to stand in as the Seattle backup backstop.
High-tech moment: As a teen, I remember listening to the radio at midnight, fiddling with the dial to get a mysterious station out of Michigan or further afield. On Friday, to listen to Felix Hernandez’ 11 pm start against the Nationals, I did a Google search for “Seattle Mariners webcast,” clicked on two links, and I was listening to KXRO out of Aberdeen, Washington in time to hear Anthony Rendon lead off with a homer.
And what do I get for my trouble? An historic first for Felix: he surrendered four home runs before the 4th inning was over!
The final home run in The King’s fall was smashed by Wilson Ramos, the man from Valencia who in the past three years has been kidnapped, and also suffered a couple of terrible injuries which cost him months of play. Yet he’s batting .290 for a playoff-bound Nats team. He later hit a second homer to punctuate the SafeCo Field ass-whipping. Paging Mr. Montero: it’s not the setbacks, but the comebacks, that matter in life.
I love listening to the radio: Ramos’ catching gear looks like “a starship trooper from StarWars,” says Rick from KXRO. Mets announcers give listeners a geography lesson, remarking that a Venezuelan (Wilmer Flores), Panamanian (Ruben Tejada) and a Colombian (new call-up Dilson Herrara of Cartagena) are competing for the middle-infield positions now that Daniel Murphy is on the DL. And they noted that the three countries border each other, which perhaps many of their listeners did not know.
This week’s pitching roll call: Henderson Alvarez lost to the red-hot Angels; Franklin Morales had a nice ND against the Giants, holding his own with 1 run over six innings; Carlos Carrasco elevated to 6-4 (lowering his ERA to 3.01) with a very similar outing to Morales in beating the White Sox; King Felix got bombed (on the mound, at least; however much rum he consumed later at home is his own business). Francisco Rodriguez picked up his 39th save of the season on Monday against Pittsburgh.
The Tigers now often start four Venezuelans, and last week actually had four of them batting consecutively near the top of the order (Eugenio Suarez, Miggy Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Ezequiel “don’t call me Zeke” Carrera).