Rich Hill continued his romp through the National League on Saturday, leading the Dodgers to a 5-0 win over the Marlins on Saturday in Miami. But he didn’t get to finish what he started.
With an array of curveballs and some fastballs mixed in, Hill retired all 21 batters he faced through seven innings with nine strikeouts, including five strikeouts in a row at one point.
But at 89 pitches, matching his high in the last two months, a period littered with blister problems, Hill was removed by manager Dave Roberts with a perfect game still intact.
Hill was understandably angry as seen in the dugout on SportsNet LA.
"Being a pitcher, you definitely don't get too many opportunities to be in that situation,” pitching coach Rick Honeycutt told Alanna Rizzo postgame on SportsNet LA. “I know Dave is sick to his stomach right now, and I am too. I still feel for him. But at the same time, we can't lose [Hill]. It's the toughest decision I've had to go through."
Joe Blanton retired the first two batters in the eighth inning, but Jeff Francoeur singled just off the glove of a leaping Corey Seager to break up the Dodgers’ bid for history and throw fuel on the file of second guessers everywhere.
The Marlins added two infield hits in the ninth against Grant Dayton.
They nearly had a hit in the seventh inning with a drive by Martin Prado, but it was tracked down with a spectacular catch by Yasiel Puig, in just his second career start in left field, and his first since 2013.
In three starts since joining Los Angeles, Hill has yet to allow a run in his 19 innings. He is the first Dodger, at least since 1913, to begin his career with the club with three consecutive scoreless starts. Hill has 20 strikeouts and two walks with the Dodgers.
Hill was stretched longer than he had pitched in a game since May 23, when he pitched eight innings with Oakland.
Say what you will about Roberts’ decision, but it is at least understandable when viewed through the lens of someone who just saw Hill make his third real start in the last nine weeks. It doesn’t make the decision any easier, but it wasn’t made blindly.
"Rich wanted to go batter to batter,” Honeycutt said to Rizzo. “But with the history, and he's going to come back on regular rest the next two times, Dave had to make the tough call what's best for the team down the stretch run.”
Roberts said there was "heat" on Hill's finger, a sign of the blister resurfacing.— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) September 11, 2016
Roberts said there was tenderness developing in area of old blister on Rich Hill's index finger.— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) September 11, 2016
Roberts: "I'm going to lose sleep tonight and I probably should."— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) September 11, 2016
The Dodgers backed Hill with four home runs, all to right field, including two by Joc Pederson. But the story of the night was Hill, who joined Ross Stripling in the pulled-with-a-no-hitter club.
Hill is now 3-0 since joining the Dodgers and on the year has a 1.80 ERA in 95 innings, the lowest in baseball among all pitchers with at least 75 innings.
Home runs: Joc Pederson 2 (22), Corey Seager (25), Justin Turner (26)
WP - Rich Hill (12-3): 7 IP, 9 strikeouts
LP - Tom Koehler (9-11): 5+ IP, 6 hits, 4 runs, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts