One of the best things about baseball is that every game brings the chance to see something that has never happened before during the 100-plus years that the game has been played professionally in this country. This also means that each game brings a chance to see a player get tortured in new and inventive ways.
Rich Hill was perfect through eight innings against the Pirates last night, and only lost the perfect game after an error by third baseman Logan Forsythe. He then finished the ninth inning of the 0-0 tie without allowing hit, and his line was perfect: 9 IP 0 H 0 BB 0 R 0 ER 10 SO. The first batter up in the bottom of the 10th inning added some tarnish:
9 IP 1 H 0 BB 1 R 1 ER 10 SO.
Hill became the first pitcher in the last 100 seasons to throw nine innings, allow one or fewer hits with no walks, and lose. He is also now the first pitcher to ever lose a no-hit bid on a walk-off homer.
Other pitchers on the cusp of a no-hitter have been crushed in similar ways—Armando Galarraga, Pedro Martínez, and Harvey Haddix are here for you, Rich—but Hill’s defeat is particularly tough to swallow. Hill, a guy whose entire career has been a series of false starts and has just now found his footing in his late 30s, pitched the game of his life last night. He’s 37 years old and still has trouble fitting in starts between blister outbreaks on his pitching hand. I’d bet my right and left leg that Hill will never again be as good as he was last night. Look at his face as Josh Harrison’s homer slips over the left-field wall—he understands exactly what just happened.
The best team in baseball couldn’t score one goddamn run in nine innings, a 5-foot-8 infielder got ahold of one, and poof, there goes the highlight of Rich Hill’s career.
After the game, Hill seemed to be handling the loss about as well as he possibly could have, telling reporters that he took the blame because he made a bad pitch to Harrison:
It falls on me on this one. One bad pitch. You know, late in the game like that, you need to make better pitches.
Rich, man, the good news is that baseball is probably incapable of coming up with another way to hurt you this badly.