We all have those days. You know the kind, when nothing goes right. The cards are stacked against you from the start. Everything’s just plain jinxed. Well, honey baby, this wasn’t one of those. Tonight Rich Hill was gold. He was cruisin’. Hill was straight up dealing and nobody could stop him. And then the world caught fire, and it was all over in a flash.
Rich Hill is tonight’s baseball story. Not the Dodgers, just Hill. Tonight the rest of the boys were tragic-comic accessories to a crime. They pretended to be helping Hill in his second attempt at a climb to the top of baseball history. For eight innings Rich Hill’s teammates made sliding catches of pop flies on their rear ends and leaping stabs to take away screaming line drives that threatened Rich Hill’s bid at baseball perfection.
But it was all a cruel facade. What Hill really needed from the rest of his team was a run. One stinking run of support. The loud catches were nice, but what Hill really needed was for the Dodgers’ bats to make some noise when it counted. He was taking care of everything else.
Rich Hill was on another level tonight. All of his pitches were working perfectly. Both of them. That’s right. Hill threw 99 pitches, and they were only two types: 63 fastballs and 36 curveballs. To say he was dominating would be cheapening his performance. You hadda see it to believe it. The man was on automatic pilot and it was beautiful.
For eight innings.
The Dodgers had chances to score all night. They finished the game 0 for 9 with RISP and left a total of 11 men on base. As cruel baseball fate would have it, that number 11 loomed large all night. The Dodgers last chance to break the scoring seal came in the top of the eighth when Logan Forsythe (No. 11) stepped to the plate with two men on and two out. He stroked a line drive right at the shortstop that wasn’t high enough. Jordy Mercer jumped to make the catch, and though nobody knew it at the time, the ballgame was over for Hill and the Dodgers.
Hill took the mound three outs away from a perfect game. Everyone on both teams knew what was at stake. Everyone watching in the stadium and at home knew history was in the air. People listening in on radio moved their ears just a little closer because they didn’t want to miss a thing.
First pitch. Ground ball to No. 11(playing for Justin Turner at third base). The ball took a high shot into the air off Logan Forsythe for an error!
Nobody on the field for the Dodgers looked at Forsythe – as he tossed the error ball, and the botched perfect game, back to Hill.
There was still a game on. So Rich Hill got right back to work and finished off the next three Bucs in order. This was now a bittersweet no-hitter.
The game went to the 10th and the Dodgers offense continued doing what they had been doing all night long. Not scoring. This time they went down one, two, three.
The skipper and Rick Honeycutt decided to offer Hill the consolation prize of an extra-inning no-hitter, so Hill went right back to the mound. Little did he know he was a dead man walking into a private Waterloo.
Five pitches into the inning, Josh Harrison caught one and blasted it high into the Pittsburgh night. With it flew all of Rich Hill’s efforts, right over the outfield wall and out of the park.
The Pirates won the game 1-0 in ten innings, and Rich Hill walked off the mound, alone in his thoughts. Game over.