Andy’s bid for perfection
It was captivating to watch Andy Pettitte make a serious bid last night for a perfect game at Camden Yards. Personally, I sounded the panic alarm when he got through six innings. Through the fifth, even he was beginning to give it a little bit of thought.
“After the fifth inning, I really felt good and I was throwing everything for strikes and putting it where I wanted to,” Pettitte said. “You’re just like, ‘Heck, maybe it could happen.’ But in the back of my mind I’m thinking, ‘I’ve never done it.’ I joke around, saying I’m throwing pies in there now at this point in my career.”
Pettitte was doing nothing of the sort last night, spinning a gem at an Orioles team that was playing like they were double parked on Cal Ripken Way. His curveball felt really good and he was throwing that a lot, but it wasn’t all perfect – Pettitte said he wasn’t burying his cutter like in some previous starts, and his fastball wasn’t getting in on righties, so he elevated it.
Pettitte had only worked four two-ball counts by the time Adam Jones stepped in with two outs in the seventh inning, hitting his hard smash off Jerry Hairston, Jr.’s glove at third base that broke up the perfect game bid. In person, it appeared to be a clear error, and it was ruled as such.
“I wish I could have that one back,” Hairston said. “Nobody feels worse than I do. It’s kind of tough to swallow but I’ve played long enough to know things happen. It’s unfortunate. It’s a shame.”
Pettitte retired the first 20 Orioles to face him before then, and Nick Markakis broke it up a batter later with a clean single down the third base line. Afterward, Pettitte had no regrets about the lost opportunity — there’s plenty of other things to achieve down the stretch as the Yankees gun toward October.
“It feels good to be healthy,” Pettitte said. “It feels good that my elbow after surgery doesn’t hurt anymore when I pitch. At this time last year my shoulder was absolutely killing me. It just feels good to feel healthy. I just hope I can hold it and keep it for another two months.”