Rich Hill of the Red Sox, who was also pulled from a perfect game after 7 innings, plans to reach out to Clayton Kershaw: ‘It was tough to get through’
BOSTON — Few people on the planet can relate to Clayton Kershaw being retired after seven perfect innings Wednesday afternoon in Minnesota. Red Sox starter Rich Hill is one of the few who can do that.
Since 1901, there have only been two pitchers retired from a game after pitching seven or more perfect innings. There was Kershaw on Wednesday. And there was Hill on Sept. 10, 2016. Coincidentally — or maybe not — both pitchers were going to the Dodgers and fired by Dave Roberts.
Hill, who has been close with Kershaw for the 3½ years they spent together in Los Angeles, has yet to contact his friend but plans to do so in the coming days. Hill doesn’t have much time to figure out if Roberts made the right call with Kershaw, but he knows any pitcher would love the chance to finish a perfect game.
“I don’t know. There’s only been what, 23, right? As a professional, I think guys would obviously like to accomplish that feat,” Hill said. there’s no doubt about it.”
In 2016, Hill had just been traded from the Athletics to the Dodgers when he topped the Marlins for seven innings, striking out every batter he faced while striking out nine. He was just 89 pitches away and Los Angeles had a 5-0 lead, but Roberts was concerned about a blister on one of Hill’s fingers and decided to replace him with reliever Joe Blanton. After the match, Roberts said he was “sick to his stomach” from the decision. Hill said Friday that Roberts was pretty adamant about his decision and he wasn’t too happy with it at the time. He joked that his agent, Seth Levinson, would be a better person to ask for his reaction that night. Hill apparently made a very heated phone call to Levinson after the game.
“I know there were concerns about my finger, with my blister, and I was coming back from the trade and we were in September and a few weeks out from the playoffs and were a big part of this team,” Hill said. . “Would that have been something that would have been amazing to accomplish? Absolutely. There is no doubt about it, personally and professionally. It was difficult to live as a player, to be in a situation like that.
Kershaw had thrown just 80 pitches in seven innings Wednesday when Roberts opted to turn to Alex Vesia. After a cut short spring training, Roberts wanted to be careful with Kershaw, who struggled with arm issues last year. Kershaw even called the decision “the right choice” and supported Roberts’ decision.
Now that more than half a decade has passed, Hill doesn’t look back on his near-perfect game with no regrets. The fact that he was able to record innings in parts of 18 major league seasons and become the oldest pitcher in the majors changed the 42-year-old’s outlook on specific moments in his career.
“I look at it from that perspective…I’m very lucky to have enough talent to play at this level for a long time,” Hill said.
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