Almost perfect: Juan Uribe’s 8th-inning error ends Jonathan Sanchez’s bid for perfect game

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Uribe’s error ends Sanchez’s bid for perfection

SAN FRANCISCO — Jonathan Sanchez knows how close he came to perfection. Still, he doesn’t blame Juan Uribe for fumbling it away.

Uribe booted Chase Headley’s grounder to third base with one out in the eighth inning, ending Sanchez’s bid for a perfect game Friday night. The left-hander didn’t allow another runner, pitching a no-hitter that was nearly even more in San Francisco’s 8-0 victory over the San Diego Padres.

“It’s the game. It can happen,” Sanchez said. “I could have given up a hit, too. It doesn’t matter. I just want to win.”

Uribe wasn’t part of the extended celebration in the Giants’ clubhouse after the game. As is usually the case, he left quickly.

“I think tomorrow would be a better time to kid around with him,” teammate Rich Aurilia said. “In the history of the game there are just so many perfect games. It may never occur again. I know it doesn’t happen a lot.”

There have been 15 perfect games in major league history, including Don Larsen’s gem in the 1956 World Series. Giants lefty Randy Johnson tossed the most recent perfecto on May 18, 2004, for Arizona at Atlanta.

After the sixth inning, San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy removed third baseman Pablo Sandoval because of a sore back. He put Kevin Frandsen in at second and shifted Uribe from second to third.

Sanchez struck out the side in the seventh and Adrian Gonzalez hit a long drive to left in the eighth before Headley’s grounder to Uribe, who finished with three hits and an RBI at the plate.

“He did everything to make that play,” Aurilia said. “You have to remember he just moved over from second, where he’d been the last three weeks. That’s not an easy hop. I know, I’ve played the position. Just think, he was one in-between hop away from a perfect game. We still saw something special tonight. Juan will contribute in the second half.”

Rookie catcher Eli Whiteside went out to talk with Sanchez immediately following the miscue, something that did not go unnoticed.

“There have been times that if something like that would happen, Jonathan would fall apart,” Aurilia said. “When Eli went out there to talk, I don’t know what he said, but it helped Jonathan keep his focus.”

Aurilia, the oldest position player on the team, seemed to savor the moment.

“To be there firsthand and be on the lineup card, it was special,” he said.

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