On Wednesday night, Los Angeles Dodgers southpaw Rich Hill threw eight perfect innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates (LAD-PIT GameTracker). Then third baseman Logan Forsythe committed an error to lead off the bottom of the ninth, dashing Hill's perfect aspirations and rendering Chase Utley's outstanding catch in the previous inning irrelevant:
The kicker, of course, was that Hill was a long shot to complete a perfect game even without Forsythe's error. That's because the Dodgers and Pirates were tied at zero entering the bottom of the ninth and required extra innings to decide a winner. Erase Forsythe's error and Hill still would've needed help from his offense and a perfect 10th inning in order to secure the second perfeco in franchise history -- the only one to date was authored by Sandy Koufax in 1965.
After Forsythe's error, Hill still had a chance to pitch the 26th no-hitter in franchise history. He completed the ninth without giving up a hit, and finished regulation with 10 strikeouts and zero walks or hits allowed. It was the 19th time in MLB history a pitcher has taken a no-hitter into extra innings. Unfortunately, that's where Hill's luck ended.
Dave Roberts, criticized in the past for pulling Hill (and Ross Stripling) during historic bids, allowed Hill to begin the 10th inning. That proved to be a mistake, as Josh Harrison led off with a home run that ended the no-hitter and gave the Pirates a walk-off victory all in one swoop.
What a bummer -- albeit a well-pitched one.
This wasn't a typical Hill start for reasons that go beyond the near-achievement. Normally, he throws around 51 percent fastballs and leans heavily on his curveball. That wasn't the case on Wednesday:
Bottom line: Rich Hill was nearly perfect on Wednesday. Alas, that just wasn't enough.