Brandon Belt hit the dinger. Joe Panik took the walk. Buster Posey hit the single, and Pablo Sandoval hit the double. Tim Hudson was not unlike watching Atlantis rise again from the sea, the bones of its kings new-covered with flesh. But I woke up this morning thinking about Yusmeiro Petit.
Did you wake up thinking about us, Yusmeiro Petit? For you are our hero.
This video gives you an idea of what Petit did on Saturday night:
But it's worth digging into the appearance just a little more. Because good gravy, Yusmeiro Petit. What a cherubic, chin-curtained miracle.
What he threw
Fastball (including cutters): 54
Typical Petit, living off his ... wait a sec. That's not typical. That's atypical, you might say. If you separate the cutters from the four-seamers, it makes a little more sense:
Still, for most of his appearance, Petit was relying on his hard-not-hard stuff. As you can see in the video, it was working. I don't know what Posey was picking up on -- if he figured that everyone's brain was fried and cold, or if he was just as surprised as the rest of us and kept calling it until it stopped working.
What makes Petit a strikeout maven is his curveball, usually.
Petit had one of the whiffiest curves in baseball last year, so to find him in the top three again this year is not that surprising. His change-up (17% swSTR) and cutter (13% swSTR) are also standout offerings. The problem is that his four-seam is terrible. It gets whiffs less than six percent of the time, turns into homers, and doesn’t get ground balls.
Yet on Sunday, he basically abandoned the curve and leaned on his two varieties of fastball. I have no idea if that was a decision Posey made after watching the Nationals react late all night, if it was a decision that Petit made when he was warming up in the bullpen, or if it was a decision that was made by the advance scouts and Dave Righetti before the Giants got on the plane to Washington.
Where he was throwing it
If you look at a typical pitch chart for Petit's outing from Brooks Baseball, you'll see delightful, colored boxes.
Pretty! But that doesn't tell the whole story. Brooks also has an inside/outside chart that isn't from the catcher's perspective, but is rather a plot that fits both the left- and right-handed strike zones:
Awaaaaaaaaay. On a cold night, with everyone trying to yank it into the Potomac, of course he's going to live away. That's like a Rafael Betancourt chart, or the chart of a pitcher with a clinical fear of killing a batter. The thing that gets me on that chart are where most of the "1"s are. Those are the first pitches in the at-bat, and Petit was expecting hitters to sit fastball and flail. He was right. Look how few called strikes he got all night. He threw 46 pitches and got eight called strikes.
Eight called strikes! The Nationals wanted to end the game quickly, and by trying to do so, ended up creating the longest game in the history of professional sports.
There are a lot of boxes up in the zone. There are more than a couple right in the danged middle. That's how close we came to bemoaning the 13-, 14-, or 15-inning loss in Game 2. It would have been The Jordan Zimmermann Game or The Game In Which Posey Was Out By An Inch. Petit wouldn't have been the goat if he gave up a homer on one of the balls that leaked over the plate. He's not exactly built for sudden-death scenarios. He's built for six or seven innings, limiting the dingers just enough to keep his team in the game.
None of those balls hurt, though. The air was cold, my friends. If there weren't seagulls hanging around the ballpark, they were there in spirit. And in this home game away from home, Yusmeiro Petit was imperfectly perfect. Six innings. One hit. No runs. The biggest win of his life.
Raise a glass of whatever's close and toast it to this man. He kind of looks like a cross between Abraham Lincoln and a Goron, but the fella can pitch. He picks some pretty good spots to do it, too.