Inside his office at PNC Park,
Losses don’t come crueler than this one, in which
"Sad for Rich," Roberts said.
Hill’s pursuit of a perfect game ended when third baseman
Never before had a no-hit bid ended on a walkoff homer, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The outcome was difficult to process. This team prides itself on its tenacity, its ability to string together inexplicable victories. On Wednesday, they found a way to lose in heart-rending fashion, giving Hill a connection with Harvey Haddix, who threw 12 perfect innings for Pittsburgh in 1959, only to lose in the 13th.
Standing at his locker, Dodgers catcher
"He threw a hell of game," Barnes said. "It hurts."
A few lockers down, All-Star shortstop
"I really don't have the words for that," Seager said. "It just sucks that we couldn't do that for him."
Across the room, wearing an ice pack on his left shoulder, Hill found a serene tone. He went through a similar situation last September, when Roberts removed him after seven perfect innings in Miami to keep Hill from aggravating blisters on his pitching hand. Hill did not try to draw a connection between that night and Wednesday. Hill declined to wallow in self-pity.
"I don't really think of luck," Hill said. "Tomorrow, you put in the work, and it's a new day. You just keep moving forward. That's all there is. Sometimes, luck is disguised as that."
His perspective is hard-earned at 37, and he considers it vital to his success. His career nearly ended after a decade lost to injuries and ineffectiveness. He mourned the passing of an infant son. He has emerged from those ravages as a man fixated on living within each moment, refusing to dwell on the past. He spent some of his postgame interview Wednesday expressing his excitement about working out on Thursday afternoon.
Hill credited those who kept his no-hit bid alive. He mentioned a sliding catch by first baseman
"It falls on me, on this one," Hill said. "One bad pitch."
Informed that he seemed to be missing the point, Hill laughed.
"No," he said. "It was a bad pitch. Late in a game like that, you have to make better pitches."
It still barely cleared the left-field fence.
After battering Pirates starters
Hill did not need much support. He looked imposing from the start. He struck out four batters in the first three innings, freezing the Pirates with his fastball and overpowering them with his curveball. A replay challenge in the second inning on a groundout kept Hill's chances alive. In the fourth, Gonzalez slid across the grass to secure a popup bunt off Harrison's bat.
Williams kept wobbling but avoiding disaster. In the eighth, he issued a walk and hit a batter. With two outs, Forsythe hung around for 10 pitches before lining out to shortstop Jordy Mercer.
"I thought that was going to get by Mercer's glove," Roberts said. "Unfortunately we just couldn't push that one across."
In the bottom of the inning, Utley sold out to keep Hill’s perfect game alive, diving across the infield dirt to snag a line drive off the bat of Pirates first baseman
The perfect game ended after the first pitch in the ninth. Mercer chopped a grounder to third base. Starting in place of Justin Turner, Forsythe booted it. The mistake meant Sandy Koufax still owned the only perfect game in Dodgers history. Hill took the error in stride, telling Forsythe not to worry before retiring the next three batters.
Hill had done it. He had gone nine innings without allowing a hit. It was a no-hitter in everything but the name. There was no celebration with Barnes, no mob near the mound. Instead, Hill trotted into the dugout and watched his teammates come up empty again in the top of the 10th.
Hill had thrown 95 pitches. If he could pitch a quick 10th, Roberts figured, he might consider sending him back out for the 11th. Harrison rendered that thought a fantasy.
As the ball took flight, Hill spun around to watch. He saw Granderson crash into the wall and land on the warning track. His glove was empty. The night was over. Hill wiped his mouth with his jersey and walked off the diamond.
He had pitched one of the greatest games in Dodgers history — and lost. Yet Hill refused to dwell on what might have been.
"I try to keep everything as simple as possible, and don't think of it as anything bigger than what actually is going on," Hill said. "We lost a ball game. That's it."