Hill's outing short but solid for Dodgers in Game 5
By Alex Putterman
WASHINGTON -- Rich Hill lasted all of 2 2/3 innings in Game 5 of the National League Division Series on Thursday, but the Dodgers weren't complaining. Given the circumstances, that was probably all they could fairly have asked for from their veteran left-hander.
Hill's outing was only the first leg of a Dodgers pitcher relay that delivered Los Angeles a 4-3 win. The lefty's job, he said afterward, was to keep his team close.
"I felt like the ball came out of my hand really well tonight," Hill said after the Dodgers advanced to the NL Championship Series, which starts Saturday (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT, FS1). "Just [to be] given the opportunity to come in on Game 5 was awesome, to keep our team in the game and give ourselves a chance to win."
Hill, who was starting on three days' rest for the first time in his career, allowed one run and exited with the Dodgers trailing, 1-0, and runners on the corners. Right-hander Joe Blanton came in and escaped the jam by getting Anthony Rendon to fly out to center field. Hill struck out six batters, allowed three hits and walked two (one intentionally).
Trea Turner led off the game with a chopper back up the middle, which hit Hill on his left wrist. He made the play, but appeared to be in some pain, only to remain in the game. He followed by striking out Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth to end the frame.
Hill's catcher, Yasmani Grandal, said despite the short rest, Hill's stuff was as sharp as it had been since he arrived from the A's in July.
"He seemed focused; he seemed to know exactly what he wanted to do," Grandal said. "He missed one pitch there on Espinosa -- he left it right down the middle, and he made him pay -- but other than that, I felt like he was fine."
Just for Hill to be pitching on this stage was an impressive feat. The 36-year-old was nearly out of baseball last season after being released by the Nationals, before catching on with the Red Sox and pitching his way into a one-year deal with the A's. The Dodgers acquired him at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, and he emerged as their No. 2 starter.
After a rough Game 2 outing -- 4 1/3 innings, four runs in a 5-2 loss -- Hill contributed to a series-clinching victory Thursday.
"It's everything that you dream of as a kid," Hill said in the champagne-soaked Dodgers clubhouse. "You wanted to get into a situation like that, and here we are."
Alex Putterman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.