With the National League Championship Series tied, 1-1, heading into three games at Dodger Stadium, the Los Angeles Dodgers sent Rich Hill to the mound in Game 3 and he had the tall task of keeping a talented Chicago Cubs lineup in check.
Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen managed to do so in Game 2, lifting the Dodgers to a 1-0 victory. Hill also had the challenge of starting opposite reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, who threw a no-hitter the last time he pitched at Dodger Stadium.
Arrieta hit a few stumbling blocks, allowing an RBI single to Corey Seager in the third inning, and a two-run homer to Yasmani Grandal in the fourth.
Justin Turner’s solo home run to lead off the bottom of the sixth knocked Arrieta out of the game. Meanwhile, Hill was efficient in the first inning, but struggled and threw 30 pitches in the second.
He nonetheless managed to escape the jam and finished his night of work with six strikeouts over six shutout innings:
SIX shutout innings?#HillYeah!
🔥 🔥 🔥 🔥 pic.twitter.com/BL95hjZJj4
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) October 19, 2016
Hill said after the game the start was the biggest of his career. It marked his longest outing this postseason and first time he held an opponent scoreless. The Cubs were shut out in back-to-back games for the first time since May 2014.
Hill’s strong performance helped the Dodgers take a lead in the NLCS for the first time since 1988. Should the series reach a seventh game, which would be played at Wrigley Field, Hill would be in line to take the ball on normal rest.
He started Game 5 of the NLDS on three days’ rest for the first time in his career.