Hairston talks about perfecto-ending E
Misplay halts Pettitte's bid for history
BALTIMORE -- Jerry Hairston Jr. trudged into the clubhouse on Monday, believing that if not for his seventh-inning error, something special might have been seen on the field at Camden Yards in the Yankees' 5-1 win over the Orioles.
Andy Pettitte chuckled and threw a good-natured hug around Hairston's shoulders, delivering this message: If Pettitte hasn't thrown a perfect game or no-hitter by now, it probably wasn't going to happen anyway.
Hairston's misplay of a hard Adam Jones ground ball ended Pettitte's string of Orioles retired at 20. One batter later, Hairston watched Nick Markakis' single shoot down the third-base line to break up Pettitte's no-hit bid.
"It's just a shame," Hairston said. "But what can you do? I just missed it."
Hairston -- who was filling in for Alex Rodriguez at third base -- waved reporters to his locker after the game to discuss the disappointing play, in which Jones' ground ball banged off the heel of his glove and scooted away.
To hear Jones tell the story, the Orioles might not have had much of a chance if Hairston had cleanly fielded the ball and thrown it to first base.
"[Pettitte] had everything working -- back-door curveball, back-door cutter. He could cut it in. He was just in sync," Jones said. "I guess it would've continued if Hairston didn't make that error. I'm pretty sure he's going to be all over the paper -- in the front of it -- tomorrow."
Jones added that once he saw the ball get by Hairston, "there was no chance he was going to get it and throw me out."
Catcher Jorge Posada said that he quickly wanted to go to the mound, just to let Pettitte know that all was not lost.
"After Hairston bobbled the ball, I went out there and said, 'Well, pick him up now and try to get the next batter,' " Posada said. "Obviously, I feel bad for J-Hair. It's one of those balls that kept going in on him."
Added manager Joe Girardi: "He just made a physical error. It's part of the game, and it's frustrating. I told him, 'Just keep plugging along, you're doing great.' "
The error came one inning after Hairston made a slick play to throw out Matt Wieters on a soft ground ball, barehanding it and throwing to first base to retire the Orioles catcher for the second out of the sixth inning.
"Really, I knew the guy running wasn't real quick, so I was just hoping he wouldn't panic," Pettitte said. "I knew he would have plenty of time, and he made a great play on it."
Hairston said that Markakis' clean single, which broke up the no-hitter, didn't make him feel any better.
"Obviously, if I make that play, we're out of the inning," Hairston said. "You don't know what's going to happen the next inning. I wish I had that play back, but I can't do anything about it.
"In the fifth, sixth, or seventh innings, you don't think about no-hitters or perfect games. We know everybody has big league hitters. You just want to get to the ninth and be a few outs away. Unfortunately, we didn't get to that point, and it was because of me."
Pettitte, who could not remember throwing a no-hitter or perfect game at any level of organized baseball, was quick to forgive Hairston.
"The ball took a bad hop on him," Pettitte said. "He kind of looked like he moved to his left and had to go back to his right. I feel bad for him. He was hanging his head and I gave him a hug, like, 'Dude, come on.'
"Obviously, it would have been cool and special for me, but it was no big deal, really. He's not out there trying to make an error. He's been a great addition to our club."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.