Hill Climbing in the Flatlands
Expecting to see the enigmatic Rich Hill make a not so triumphant return to the scene of some of his finest professional work, I headed to the ballpark last night planning to call it a night whenever he did.
He only lasted five innings but I stayed for a sixth when it was assigned to Scott Eyre.
The battery in the starting lineup was Hill squared, and after three innings it was hard to say whose arm was more impressive, the left of Rich or the right of Koyie. At that point Rich had fanned three but Koyie had thrown out a man stealing and picked another off of second.
For the record, Rich Hill allowed seven hits and two runs while walking one and striking out five on the night. I had him for 47 strikes among his 78 pitches, but left with other less quantifiable impressions of his work.
Hill's misses weren't close. The 'balls' he threw were so flagrant that the batter was rarely tempted by them.
So in love is he with his buxom curveball that he was even throwing it on the majority of his warmups between innings.
His mind still seems to wander. Where does it go? Despite his catcher's best efforts to protect him from himself, [Rich] Hill allowed Tacoma's catcher to steal third practically standing up after a fifth-inning double. Consequently the infield had to draw in [the score at the time was 1-0, Rainiers] and it cost a run when the batter burped a faux base hit over the shortstop's head that landed just beyond the seam of infield dirt and outfield grass.
The other run Hill allowed came on a first-inning homer by a left-handed hitter who came in at a .400+ clip versus southpaws. Sandwiched between two swinging strikeouts, it was both well-struck and windblown to the opposite field.
Hill's windup has always seemed too elaborate and flamboyant to me and it still does. The number of things that could go wrong exceed his margin for error.
He took the loss in a 5-2 game. Among the seven hits he permitted were three doubles and the homer, all of them hit on the button.
As for Eyre, he fanned a lefty, gave up a homer to a rightie [Mike Kinkade, bless him, who, as an I-Cub last year pulled off a straight steal of home to upstage the tired, 'Famous Chicken' one night in Des Moines], popped up a lefty, gave up a ringing double to a rightie and, finally, fanned a rightie to end his inning.
CRUMBS: Glad to see AZ Phil's post on Micah Hoffpauir's status; nothing in the I-Cub media notes last night about his return...PESKY REDHEAD UPDATE - After last night's 'ofer' Matt Murton now has 78 plate appearances this year between Des Moines and Chicago without an extra-base hit...Eric Patterson has been activated from the DL but didn't play last night...the team continues to be 'uniform' in wearing their pants tucked just below the knees; Eyre's pajamas were the conspicuous and lone exception...ex-big leaguer Hector Carrasco has also joined the team's bullpen...Sam Fuld's thumb has finally healed to the point of regular playing time. Last night he had a double the other way and got thrown out stealing third...Jake Fox came out of his slump on the recent road trip through California. He had four doubles in a game against Sacramento, tying a club record...just happened to notice while waiting for last night's game to begin that the Salt Lake Bees [Angels] are off to a 25-5 start in the PCL, reminiscent of the '84 Tigers' break from the gate. We'll see if their losses have reached double digits by the time they make their only trip of the season to Des Moines in early August...I hope to check out Kevin Hart's start tomorrow in a scheduled matinee...MW