The theme for Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium was starting out slow, then waiting patiently for things to turn around. It worked for the Dodgers offense, and worked wonders for Rich Hill, who delivered his best start of the season in the Dodgers’ 8-2 win over the Mets.
The win was the Dodgers’ sixth consecutive victory, matching their season high. They had two other six-game winning streaks in 2017, and all three streaks have come in the last 26 games, during which the Dodgers are 20-6.
Rich Hill has struggled mightily this season, and the way things started on Wednesday it looked like those struggles would continue. Curtis Granderson hit the second pitch of the game over the wall, then Wilmer Flores doubled to put Hill in a jam.
But Hill was able to work around that double in the first inning, thanks to two strikeouts. But the 1-0 deficit was the first time the Dodgers trailed in six games.
Normally a curveball/fastball pitcher, Hill has had trouble this season with his bread-and-butter pitch, the curve. On Wednesday, Hill seemed to introduce a cutter of sorts, or at the very least something else to keep the Mets hitters off balance.
Roberts told @McCulloughTimes that Hill was throwing a slider/cutter mix tonight.— Alanna Rizzo (@alannarizzo) June 22, 2017
Rich Hill got tips from Clayton Kershaw about the cutter. This seems like a good person to ask for advice.— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) June 22, 2017
New York loaded the bases in the fourth inning, but Hill responded by striking out the next three. He allowed just the one run in his five innings of work, and struck out a season-high eight.
However, with 98 pitches Hill was done after five innings, and has yet to see the sixth inning on the mound in 2017. Wednesday night set a record in that regard.
Rich Hill is the 1st pitcher in MLB history to last 5 or fewer innings in each of his 1st 9 starts of a season. (via @EliasSports)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 22, 2017
Hill at the plate
The Dodgers tied the game before collecting their first hit. Joc Pederson walked to open the third inning, then advanced to third with Yasiel Puig reached on a throwing error by third baseman T.J. Rivera. That brought up Hill, who flew out to center field for a sacrifice fly.
It was the seventh RBI of Hill’s career, but his first since June 19, 2009, when he was with the Baltimore Orioles.
The 1-1 tie was broken in the bottom of the fourth, when Cody Bellinger and Logan Forsythe started the frame with doubles for one run, then after Joc Pederson was intentional walked with one out, Yasiel Puig unloaded on a dead-red fastball by Tyler Pill for a three-run shot to break the game open.
Puig, who with 13 home runs has surpassed his home run total for each of the last two seasons, took some time admiring his home run, which was well struck. As he rounded first base, Flores offered some words to Puig about his slow trek around the bases. Puig turned around and said, “F**k you” to Flores, and after seeing this on replay Eduardo Perez on the ESPN broadcast deadpanned, "His English is getting better."
Yasmani Grandal added a solo home run in the sixth inning, his second straight game with a home run. But he wasn’t done, homering again in the eighth. A Dodger has hit multiple home runs in a game 10 times this season, including twice by Grandal.
The Dodgers scored a pair of runs in the eighth inning to give them eight (or more) runs for a fifth straight game for the first time since 1945.
The Dodgers have hit multiple home runs in a game 24 times in 2017, and have won 20 of those games.
The Dodgers, now in first place in a tightly-packed National League West, go for the four-game sweep on Thursday night against the Mets, with Hyun-jin Ryu on the mound in the series finale against left-hander Steven Matz.
Home runs: Yasiel Puig (13), Yasmani Grandal 2 (9); Curtis Granderson (8)
WP - Rich Hill (4-3): 5 IP, 4 hits, 1 run, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts
LP - Tyler Pill (0-3): 6 IP, 5 hits, 6 runs (5 earned), 3 walks, 6 strikeouts