Hill flirts with perfecto as Dodgers belt 4 HRs in win
By Joe Frisaro and Ken Gurnick
MLB.com |@JoeFrisaro |
MIAMI -- The desire to preserve Rich Hill's health outweighed his quest for perfection. So after seven innings without allowing a baserunner on Saturday, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts made the decision to lift the veteran left-hander.
The Marlins avoided being on the wrong end of history when Jeff Francoeur lined a two-out single to left off Joe Blanton in the eighth, but the night belonged to Hill, who struck out nine over seven perfect frames in the Dodgers' 5-0 victory at Marlins Park.
Since Hill spent time on the disabled list with blister issues, the Dodgers weren't taking any chances, even though he befuddled Miami hitters on his 89-pitch night. In three Dodgers starts, Hill is 3-0 with 19 scoreless innings, 20 strikeouts and just two walks.
"Dave has been incredible, and this organization has been incredible, and where we're at as a team is far more important than any individual accolades," Hill said. "The position we're in has a lot to do with the way he's been able to orchestrate this team. You have to look at it that way and move forward. It's over with. On to Arizona and get ready for that and prepare to pitch there."
Miami finished with two hits, as Dee Gordon slapped an infield single in the ninth, and three baserunners.
"It was one of those things today where you ran into kind of a buzzsaw," Francoeur said. "When he's got that curveball working like that, it's tough, man. We just weren't able to make the adjustments. [Tom Koehler] kept it close for a while. We couldn't give him anything to work with."
Joc Pederson belted two home runs as the Dodgers went deep four times on the night to bounce back from Friday's 4-1 loss.
The Dodgers went on a home run barrage off Miami right-hander Koehler, blasting three in a span of five batters, beginning with Pederson's two-out solo shot high into the upper deck in right field in the fifth inning. After Howie Kendrick walked to lead off the sixth, Corey Seager blasted a two-run homer and Justin Turner followed with an opposite-field solo knock.
Pederson connected for the second time off Brian Ellington in the seventh inning, marking his fourth career multi-homer game.
The loss was damaging to the Marlins' fading National League Wild Card chances, as they are 5 1/2 behind the Cardinals with 20 games remaining.
"We've got to continue to play and be ready to play," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "But this time of the year, each loss, you're running out of games. You're far enough back where they're not just losses now. They hurt you pretty good because each one kind of takes your spirit away."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Francoeur gets enough for a hit: The Marlins hit a few balls hard with nothing to show for it off Hill. But on a 2-2 pitch with two outs in the eighth inning against Blanton, Francoeur slapped a liner that had just enough on it to get over a leaping attempt by Seager at shortstop. Seager made an all-out effort to preserve a combined perfect game, but the ball deflected off the top of his glove.
"It's huge. I was saying, in 11 years in the big leagues, I'd never had a no-hitter against my team or a perfect game," Francoeur said. "I was definitely praying this wasn't the first time. I'm glad we were able to come through with a few hits." More >
Joc preserver: Hill's masterpiece would have been blemished early if not for the sliding, tumbling catch by Pederson, who stole a hit from Marcell Ozuna for the second out of the second inning. Pederson also made all three putouts in the fourth.
Puig saver: Making the kind of lay-out catch that few others can, left fielder Yasiel Puig kept the perfecto going with an amazing grab of Martin Prado's drive into the left-center gap for the final out of the seventh inning. Puig was making his first start in left in three years. Roberts said had the ball dropped, removing Hill would have been much easier.
According to Statcast™, Puig traveled 85.6 feet in five seconds to make the catch, which doesn't make the top 50 in the Major Leagues this year in terms of ground covered by an outfielder to make a catch in five seconds or fewer. Prado hit the ball at 92 mph off that bat, an exit velocity that, combined with his 24-degree launch angle, leads to just a .267 batting average. But Puig was playing very shallow in left.
"It was a great play," Roberts said. "For Yasiel to go out there in left field, there might have been a little of me that wouldn't have been too upset if the ball dropped, if I speak honestly. It was tough, but it was a great play." More >
Escalates quickly for Koehler: He was using more pitches, but Koehler was matching Hill in regards to putting up zeroes. The Marlins' right-hander kept the Dodgers off the board until Pederson launched his towering home run with two outs in the fifth. But the outing got away from Koehler in the sixth, and it was set up by a four-pitch leadoff walk to Kendrick. The free pass set the stage for back-to-back home runs. Seager blasted a two-run shot to right, and Turner followed with an opposite-field drive to right, ending Koehler's night after 87 pitches.
"I didn't feel like I was as sharp as I could have been," Koehler said. "I'm disappointed in the fact Jose [Fernandez] pitched great last night, and you want to come in and build the momentum and make a statement in the series that you're not out of it."
"That's just an incredible play. Those are the kind of plays you see when you see a no-hitter or a perfect game or something. You see a play like that. That was one of those plays where you're like, 'Ah, you never know what's going to happen tonight.' You don't see catches like that very often. That was an incredible play." -- Mattingly, on Puig's catch to rob Prado in the seventh
"This is probably the worst I've felt after a win." -- Roberts
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Roberts became the first manager since at least 1900 to remove a pitcher from a perfect game after seven innings, per the Elias Sports Bureau. Hill was also the first Dodgers starting pitcher to throw seven perfect innings since Hiroki Kuroda on July 7, 2008. More >
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Dodgers challenged an out call by first-base umpire Bill Miller in the third. Hill ran out a grounder originally ruled an inning-ending double play. The call was overturned, and Hill was ruled safe at first base.
WHAT'S NEXT Dodgers:Andre Ethier, coming off a broken right leg, makes his first start of the season in left field on Sunday at 10:10 a.m. PT. Kenta Maeda will be on the mound, having gone 6-1 with a 3.40 ERA in his last eight starts. He lost to the Marlins in April, allowing a home run to J.T. Realmuto.
Marlins: Closing out the series and homestand for the Marlins on Sunday will be Jose Urena (3-6, 5.54 ERA), who gets the nod for the 1:10 p.m. ET start. Urena, who opened the season in the bullpen, seeks his first win at Marlins Park. At home, the right-hander is 0-4 with a 6.67 ERA.