The last time Rich Hill completed seven innings, he had a perfect game in the works. Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts pulled the plug on Hill’s pursuit of history, citing the bigger picture.
On Monday, Hill was removed after seven innings and with a 3-0 deficit. The outing was his longest of the season. Hill hadn’t so much as reached in the sixth inning in any of his nine previous starts.
“I definitely felt way more like myself than any game that I’ve pitched the entire year so far,” Hill said. “The velocity was maintained throughout the game, breaking ball was much sharper, and the cutter was very good.”
Hill’s best start of the year was a result of changed windup and delivery. “Being a little more efficient out of the stretch, I worked mostly out of the stretch warming up before the game,” Hill explained.
“I took a modified windup just to get more command over the rubber. I felt like I was able to gather myself and finish my pitches up front.”
So while the Dodgers failed to hit a home run in an 18th consecutive game and saw their winning streak snapped at 10 games, they at least got a glimpse of the pitcher who received a three-year, $48 million contract during the offseason.
Hill has spent much of the year adjusting mechanics in effort to recapture the form that cemented him as the Dodgers’ No. 2 starter behind Clayton Kershaw. Hill even added a new pitch to his repertoire as another mean of improving delivery.
While Los Angeles has received stellar contributions from Brandon McCarthy and Alex Wood, they naturally would become all the more formidable with an effective Hill to add to the mix.