PITTSBURGH -- Just about everybody in the Dodgers' clubhouse was crushed that Rich Hill lost another go at history, not to mention the way he lost it. Everybody seemed crushed, that is, excerpt Rich Hill."If I said that's baseball, it's cliché, but that's the way the game is. That's why
PITTSBURGH -- Just about everybody in the Dodgers' clubhouse was crushed that Rich Hill lost another go at history, not to mention the way he lost it. Everybody seemed crushed, that is, excerpt Rich Hill.
"If I said that's baseball, it's cliché, but that's the way the game is. That's why it's fun," said Hill, who lost a perfect game on a John Forsythe error in the ninth inning, then his no-hitter and the game on Josh Harrison's walk-off homer leading off the bottom of the 10th for a 1-0 Pirates win.
Less than a year ago, coming off a nasty bout of finger blisters, Hill was removed by manager Dave Roberts in Miami after seven perfect innings on Sept. 10, 2016. He pitched at least as well and longer against the Pirates with 10 strikeouts and no walks, the masterpiece kept alive by defensive gems from second baseman Chase Utley, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and Hill himself covering first base.
There's that history in Miami for Hill, and so much more. The death of an infant son, battling back from independent ball to reinvent himself, operations and 10 stints on the disabled list, including two earlier this year for finger blisters. Hill acknowledges that experience shapes his behavior, that if he'd been younger he might be "riding the wave" of emotion more.
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Instead, Hill -- who will wear son Brice's name on his jersey for Players Weekend -- is laser-focused on the big picture of this amazing Dodgers season, even after such a dramatic loss.
"We have something here that's bigger than any individual," he said. "We all realize and have to understand that tomorrow's another day and a big day to come back and win the series. We're in it for the delayed gratification and not the instant gratification. Tonight would have been one of those points … at the end of the year, wherever we end up or fall, it's the culmination of the days, weeks, months, years and decades guys put in to get to this point."
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According to Elias, Hill is the first pitcher since Lefty Leifield of the 1906 Pirates to lose a game with nine or more innings pitched, one or fewer hits and zero walks. The last player to break up a no-hitter with an extra-inning homer was the Mets' Johnny Lewis, at Cincinnati (Jim Maloney) on June 14, 1965. The last pitcher to lose a game after starting with at least nine no-hit innings was Montreal's Mark Gardner at L.A. on July 26, 1991, losing in the 10th, 1-0.
Hill fell just short of throwing the second perfect game in Dodgers history (Sandy Koufax, 1965). This was the first extra-inning complete-game one-hitter loss since Pittsburgh's Harvey Haddix in 1959, and the third in history, joining Bobo Newsom in 1934.
"It's still a pretty good part of the movie," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. "I can't imagine there's any dishonor walking off the field giving up one run on one hit. Man, he was effective and sharp. Kept making pitches. Kept moving that breaking ball around. The fastball command was crazy good. We were up there battling and trying, but we weren't getting a whole lot done."
Hill said Harrison hit a bad pitch, a fastball that leaked over the plate. But according to Statcast™, Harrison's homer that left fielder Curtis Granderson just missed catching had just a 93.6-mph exit velocity and 16-percent hit probability. Similar balls (based on exit velo/launch angle) have been homers just 8 percent of the time. Of all the home runs Hill has allowed in the past three seasons, this one had the second-lowest exit velo, second-shortest projected distance (347) and third-lowest hit probability.
"Late in the game like that, you have to make better pitches," Hill said.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.