Baseball’s twists can be cruel. You stand on the precipice of a grand achievement and you end up as just another pitcher with a loss. You work brilliantly for nine innings – and how many pitchers can manage that anymore? – and you see one bit of greatness vanish after the next.
So it went for Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill on Wednesday night in Pittsburgh. If he slept after the game against the Pirates, it was OK. He’d already had the nightmare.
Hill took a perfect game into the ninth inning only to have an error turn that into a no-hitter and a home run in the 10th convert it into a bizarre defeat.
First, backup third baseman Logan Forsythe mishandled a ground ball off the bat of Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer, Mercer reached first on the error and the perfect game dream vanished with both teams scoreless.
Hill became the first pitcher to take a no-hitter into the 10th inning since Pedro Martinez in 1995. And then Pittsburgh second baseman hit the first pitch into the stands for a walk-off homer and a 1-0 win.
Poof. Over. Ow.
Hill walked none, struck out 10. He threw only 99 pitches. He didn’t get the no-no, the perfect game or a win. The Dodgers got eight hits, stranded nine runners in scoring position and left 10 on base.
It was valiant work, and fun to see. Hill had missed a few weeks with a blister on his pitching hand and was making only his third start since coming back.
You missed it? You’ll see him in the playoffs. The Dodgers lead the National League West by a piddling 21 games. They’ll be around awhile. Unless more of baseball’s cruel twists make their unexpected but too-frequent appearances again.
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman