LOS ANGELES — Jonathan Pettibone last pitched in Dodger Stadium under much different circumstances. It was around this time five years ago, the Orange County native threw a bullpen session for the Phillies in Chavez Ravine.
He had just been drafted in the supplemental third round.
“I signed about 10 minutes after,” Pettibone said. “I signed somewhere up there, I think in the clubhouse on the dugout level. And then probably two days later I went straight to Florida and that was the start of my career.”
Cut to Thursday night when the Esperanza High product took the mound at Dodger Stadium for the first time since that fateful bullpen session. It was his first career start on the West Coast and the rookie was determined to make it a memorable one.
Pettibone packed the stands with as many friends and family members as he could. He took the mound for the first time as they cheered.
But then the adrenaline got the best of him in the Phillies’ 6-4 loss to the Dodgers.
Pettibone was rocked in the first inning, giving up three runs.
“The first inning, kind of coming back home and pitching in front of a home crowd, just got my adrenaline going,” Pettibone said. “My adrenaline was just sky-high.”
After walking Skip Schumaker to start the game, Yasiel Puig reached on a fielder’s choice. He then gave up a single and two-straight doubles to Matt Kemp and Andre Eithier. An athletic catch at the track by Delmon Young was then needed for the second out of the inning and Pettibone was finally able to calm down.
The Phillies would come back to tie the game in the fifth inning and he would not receive a decision.
“Of course, you want to come out and impress your buddies and your family,” Pettibone said. “It’s a good thing and kind of crazy throwing in front of (everyone). I probably had 50-plus people here. Family, friends and everybody came. It was kind of surreal.”
It’s been a rocky stretch for the rookie out of Orange County. The Placentia native went 3-0 after his May call-up but then came back to earth, going 0-3. Pettibone, whose father Jay played in the majors for the Minnesota Twins in 1983, has been tasked with replacing Philadelphia’s Cy Young arms that are currently on the disabled list.
A tall order, yes, but a situation he has no control over and is determined to learn from, which he did Thursday night.
“He settled in, he retired the last 15 batters. He was doing pretty good,” said Phillies’ manager Charlie Manuel. “He took us to a good place in the game and gave us a chance to win it.”
Pettibone allowed just the three runs. He walked one and struck out four over six innings.
“I was trying to blow it by these guys and that wasn’t going to work,” Pettibone said. “The biggest thing was trying to calm that down, trying to stay within myself, trying to pitch within my strengths and not trying to overpower these guys, which I kind of did in the first inning.”
It wasn’t the memorable start Pettibone hoped for in his homecoming, but it’s one he’s hoping to build on in his young career.
“That’s just the way the game happens sometimes,” Manuel said. “He’s young too and he’s inexperienced at this level and he’s learning a lot about the game.”