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



Hill was mostly throwing fastballs in his start vs the Cardinals, so I'm thinking that they decided he needed to work on controlling his curve.

The sooner he gets this figured out and we can have a rotation of Z, Lilly, Dempster, Hill and Gallagher, the better. 

I hate to be mean, but has anybody ever heard Hill try to talk in an interview? Once he gets past the basic Nuke LaLouche quotes (http://thinkersandjokers.com/thinker.php?id=1944) he's pretty much toast.

Well he did attend college at Michigan. What do you expect? :)

Recent comments

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  • Well said. On one hand, I thought the HBP was a bad baseball play -- down 4 runs, put a runner on for a red-hot Fowler. On the other hand, they needed to do something -- I hadn't thought about the warning/pitching inside point. Is Hurdle that smart? He does not strike me that way. By the way -- not clear which fan base you are referring to in your "first" 3rd point.

  • My unsolicited opinions on topics covered in this thread:
    1. I hate the fact that after 162 games, a team could be out after 1 game. However, I think the system is pretty close to perfect right now. 2 of 3 isn't feasible unless they shorten the regular season, and it ices the division winners for way too long. This creates excitement, and rewards the division winners.

  • Personally, I think the game could have had a very different look had the Pirates held onto the ball and tagged Fowler out on the steal in the first. Cole was clearly frazzled, but if they took that runner off the base, it could have relaxed him a lot.

  • Football games are played once a week. There are 16 games a year. I'm not even remotely following at all how you can compare the two leagues and playoff systems. It is physically impossible to play a home and away series. The idea of not having any road games in baseball playoffs is certainly a head scratcher.

    How is not having the first and last game at home a benefit for the division winners and team with the best record? How is it not an incentive to win the division when a WC team has to blow their top pitcher?

    Call me lost.

  • Two 97+ win teams in a do-or-die, great bullpens, overpowering starters, plenty of pop--hard to believe that game wouldn't be tense. A 4-0 lead is not a blowout, especially in that situation and with the Cubs' young bullpen. Not only would a defensive play here or there make a difference, but you get the win there also on the home plate umps strike zone (generous strike calls for Arrieta, including a couple Ks), and on Schwarber sitting on the right pitch at the right time.

  • Unbeleivable Dodgers:
    I just noticed the Dodger's payroll today. It is just absurd. $300,000,000+!!
    Here is where just some of their money is for 2015:


    Some "Highlights"
    Carl Crawford $20MM
    Brandon McCarthy $17MM
    Bronson Arroyo $3.5MM
    Darwin B $2.2MM
    Dan Haren $10MM
    Matt Kemp $18MM
    Brian Wilson $10MM
    Ryan Webb $2.2MM
    Dee Gordon $2.5MM

  • So I think tomorrow will be the most important test of how far we can go. We can win it all with two pitchers since Arietta has shown he can carry over his success to the post season. If Lester can be dominant also then I think we can go far no matter how Hendricks or Hammel do.


    And in terms of pitching just went through to see how we could maximize Lester and Arietta and came up with this (Lester would be going on 4 days rest three times and Arietta twice):

  • i still can't believe that crawford contract (7/142). all that loot and years for a LF'r who's entire hitting game revolves around his legs and line-drive power. those triples that raised his value are deceptive as hell to his true power, but it helped him get paid.

    there's also pause about a guy who's ob% is almost totally driven by hits rather than walks. BOS got lucky unloading that crap deal.

  • I think the Cubs take Berry and Soler off playoff roster and add Hammel & Ramirez. Believe Maddon will find Denorfia & Jackson defense too hard to lose.

  • O & B: I like the one-game Wild Card heart attack game, but I'd actually like to see a best two-out-of-three LDS played in the home parks of the two division winners with the best records, and then the LCS as a best two-out-of-three in the home park of the division winner left standing with the best record, and then let's get to the World Series already. 

  • I...don't know. If chanting would help the Cubs beat the Cardinals in the next series or ultimately the World Series I think I'd be ok with it lol. I'm not supportive of saying insulting things to opposing fans or throwing things but loud noise and chanting seems appropriate to me.

    I also grew up in France though and that kind of thing is par for the course at soccer and rugby matches and I love it. I find crowds too passive here.

  • Er, they won the first one. My bad. Carry on.

  • With last night's win in Pittsburgh, the Cubs have tied the Pirates with 98 wins, and are only 2-1/2 games behind the Cardinals. No reason why the Cubs can't finish the post-season with the best winning percentage in baseball (regular season & post-season combined). 

  • BOB: I doubt very much that Matt Szczur will be on the Cubs LDS roster.

    If he wasn't on the Wild Card roster (when the Cubs went with 15 position players), he won't be on the LDS roster (when the Cubs will go with 13 or 14 position players).

    As it is, at least one of the three RH hitting outfielders who were on the Cubs WC roster (Denorfia, Jackson, and Soler) could get bumped off the LDS roster (probably Soler).