Everything in the middle game of the series was just a little off on Wednesday, with Rich Hill and the Dodgers falling to the Cardinals, 6-1 on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium.
Chris Taylor was playing the outfield for the first time in his major league career, so wouldn’t you know the second pitch of the game was an extra-base hit waiting to happen, whacked to the center field wall off the bat of Dexter Fowler, only Taylor proved up to the task by tracking it down and leaping to rob Fowler.
In the bottom of the opening frame, switch-hitter Yasmani Grandal batted left-handed against the right-handed Mike Leake, which was normal. But what was out of place was that Grandal was wearing the wrong batting helmet, the one protecting his left ear instead of right.
Yasmani Grandal accidentally wore the wrong helmet during his first at-bat pic.twitter.com/oxtT0stY7I— TheRenderMLB (@TheRenderMLB) May 25, 2017
But what was most off was Hill, who was fighting the strike zone for most of his outing. He needed 36 pitches to get through the second inning, one that saw him walk four batters and allow one hit, a two-run single by Kolten Wong with bases loaded.
Hill made it to the fifth inning down only two runs despite his wild night, but then the wheels came off. He walked a batter then allowed two singles to open the frame, with two runs scoring on the second hit after the ball got by Cody Bellinger in left field.
The walk was Hill’s seventh of the night. He had never walked more than five in a start before Wednesday, and hadn’t even done that since 2006.
Hill allowed five runs in his four-plus innings, with four strikeouts to go with those seven free passes. It was every bit the opposite of his last start, striking out six while walking none in five strong innings. That was a week ago.
Leake, by contrast, was very much on, and held the Dodgers at bay all night. Leake allowed just three hits, and kept the Dodgers off the scoreboard until the seventh inning.
Leake’s eight innings tied him with three others for the longest outing against the Dodgers in 2017. One of the other three pitchers was Lance Lynn, in the first night of this series.
Consequently, the Dodgers have three runs on seven hits in 22 innings so far against the Cardinals.
The Dodgers finish things up with the Cardinals on Thursday night, with Kenta Maeda activated from the disabled list to start the series finale, another 7:10 p.m. PT start. Michael Wacha starts for St. Louis.
Home run: Yadier Molina (4)
WP - Mike Leake (5-2): 8 IP, 4 hits, 1 run, 5 strikeouts
LP - Rich Hill (1-2): 4+ IP, 4 hits, 5 runs, 7 walks, 4 strikeouts