To call the San Francisco Giants' Yusmeiro Petit a journeyman pitcher is to insult the Bruce Chens and Octavio Dotels of baseball history. Career minor leaguer might be closer to the mark. And yet, the 29-year-old righty from Maracaibo, Venezuela, has now had not one, but two brushes with baseball immortality.
On Thursday at AT&T Park, in his first start since May, Petit retired the first eight Colorado Rockies hitters he faced, striking out shortstop Charlie Culberson to set a record for having retired 46 consecutive batters. That broke the mark held by Mark Buehrle who mowed down 45 in a row for the Chicago White Sox in 2009.
The next batter, Rockies pitcher Jordan Lyles, doubled to left field. That last batter to reach base safely against Petit was the Philadelphia Phillies' Marlon Byrd, who also doubled in the 5th inning of a July 22 game at Citizens Bank Park.
Petit returned to the Giants starting rotation in place of the struggling Tim Lincecum, who was recently sent to the bullpen.
During his string, Petit pitched 15.1 innings over eight games, striking out 21 of the 46 batters he faced.
Petit, a starter/long reliever, has pitched nearly 1,000 innings over 11 seasons in the minors. By contrast, he’s had about two season’s worth of major league duty (less than 370 innings pitched total) scattered over portions of seven seasons, with the Giants and before that the Florida Marlins and Arizona Diamondbacks.
The results have not been exactly awe-inspiring: An 18–24 record with a 4.79 ERA.
His only career complete game as a starter came on Sept. 6, 2013, when he came one out shy of completing a perfect game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. That was 26 players in a row.
After the game, Petit told reporters that he went home and watched the whole thing on replay into the wee hours of morning. The next day, he called his father, Alberto, back in Maracaibo, who watched the game on TV. “He said that after the sixth inning, he couldn’t stop crying,” Petit said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.