Rich Hill took the mound Saturday afternoon looking to add to the string of strong outings Los Angeles Dodgers starters have provided this week. Contributions from Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish and Alex Wood helped the team to modest three-game winning streak after losing 11 straight.
Hill fell behind multiple Washington Nationals batters early, but still kept them off balance as he pitched with an early lead. Hill retired four batters in a row before walking Anthony Rendon with one out in the second.
He ended the inning by striking out Jayson Werth and Michael A. Taylor. Hill walked Nationals starter A.J. Cole with one out in the third but otherwise struck out the side. He sat at six strikeouts through three hitless innings.
That then was broken up on Rendon’s solo home run in the fourth. It was all the damage Hill allowed in his five innings of work.
Despite only sitting at 74 pitches, he was pinch-hit for with two on in the top of the sixth. It naturally raised some red flags because of Hill’s history with blisters. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts explained after the win the decision was tied to potentially scoring more runs, via Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
No issues, blister or otherwise, behind Rich Hill's early exit. Dave Roberts saw opportunity to take on runs vs LHP with RH pinch-hitters
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) September 16, 2017
Logan Forsythe, who pinch-hit for Hill, struck out swinging against Oliver Perez. He then retired Chase Utley to bail out Cole and the Nationals in what was shaping to be a big inning for the Dodgers.
Although Hill failed to complete more than five innings for a fifth time in his past eight starts, the outing otherwise was one of his better performances. He finished with seven strikeouts against two walks.
One area that may be concern for the veteran left-hander is he’s allowed at least one home run in nine consecutive starts.