LOS ANGELES — Rich Hill was effective in his five innings in the Dodgers’ 3-1 win over the Padres on Wednesday night, but there was a fear that his relatively short night could have been even more brief.
Hill was hit by a pitch on his right hand in the second inning and immediately winced in pain at the plate, then on his way to first base. However, any thought of Hill needing to exit because of an injury were quickly dismissed as team trainers and manager Dave Roberts got to Hill at first base.
“The first thing he said when we got out there was that his on-base was 1.000,” Roberts said.
When asked about this comment postgame, Hill — who owns a .131 career on-base percentage — just laughed.
“It was fleeting,” Hill joked, as he later struck out.
Hill walked three but said the ball felt good coming out of his hand, better than his Freeway Series outing in Anaheim last Friday, a start with which he was generally pleased.
Hill mentioned specifically how he was able to change shapes on his curveball, and that he was ahead of the season-opening pace last year that saw him post a 2.42 ERA in April.
Roberts complimented Hill’s confidence in his curveball, that he stuck with it and even dropped arm angles through the game. But Roberts also pulled Hill after just five innings, with the Dodgers up 3-1.
It was the second time in as many nights a Dodgers starter was pulled after five innings and just 75 pitches. But this time, Hill’s spot in the batting order wasn’t the driving force.
Roberts said he planned before the game for Hill to throw 75-85 pitches in this start, and that given the Padres lineup due up in the sixth inning — right-handers Manuel Margot and Wil Myers, switch-hitter Yangervis Solarte, then another righty in Hunter Renfroe — the decision was made to pitch the right-handed Sergio Romo instead.
“I liked the spot going to Romo there, with the middle of their lineup,” Roberts said.
Roberts said that hit by pitch played no factor in removing Hill from the game when he did. But the HBP was still quite the topic postgame.
For one, Hill said it was his first time ever getting hit by a pitch, not just in the pros.
“I was just telling Scotty [Van Slyke] it was great,” Hill said. “I feel like a baseball player.”
Hill was grinning ear to ear just talking about the hit by pitch after the game, which was probably easier to do since X-rays of Hill’s hand were negative.
He joked he thought about stealing second, and even told Myers at first base, “It really hurts when you guys get hit by a pitch, huh?”
The Dodgers and Padres finish things off with a businessperson’s special, a nooner start on Thursday. Brandon McCarthy makes his 2017 mound debut in the series finale, facing off against longtime Angels pitcher Jered Weaver.