LOS ANGELES – Dave Roberts destroyed the Dodgers’ chances of winning the World Series by managing his pitching staff like a fan who won a contest. He shuffled through his relievers, trying to find the worst one for the worst moment, and succeeded in ways even he could not have imagined. He lost Game 4, and probably the series, and along the way stubbed out the finest moment of Rich Hill’s career like a smoldering cigarette butt. Roberts’ thoroughness inspires awe.
Or maybe, just maybe, we do not know everything. Could that be possible? Kanskje den raskeste og enkleste summation, den som beviser mest tilfredsstillende til de indre demoner, er ikke alltid den eneste som holder fast i fakta. There’s stuff happening outside the television screen, real human stuff that might not provide the same bilious catharsis but is probably worth mentioning anyway.
Across two very different games, Dodger Stadium was home to heroes delivering clutch hits, great plays and moments either club will ever forget. Here’s how it all went down.
Inspired by their ace, the Red Sox piled up nine runs against the Dodgers bullpen to gain a 3-1 lead and come back from the longest loss in World Series history.
Hill had given up one hit through six innings of an eventual 9-6 Game 4 loss. He’d thrown a lot of pitches (91) but not an intolerable amount. None of the feared Boston hitters had reached second base. He was doing all those endearing Rich Hill things: swearing, sweating, talking to himself, lofting those parachute curveballs to the plate with a pillowy softness, hopping around after every pitch with that weird flinging leg that always makes it look as if he’s trying to recall every pitch back to his hand. The Dodgers were leading 4-0, the joint was jumpin ‘, and it looked for all the world like this World Series, once the sole province of the best team in baseball, was going to be linked to two games apiece heading into Sunday.
But Hill started the seventh by walking Xander Bogaerts, and amid an ecosystem that calls for starting pitchers to be merely functional conduits to a squadron of relievers, it was not surprising to see lefty Scott Alexander’s tepid throwing in the Dodgers bullpen immediately conduct heat. Hill is 38 years old, and the Dodgers have a tendency to treat him like someone who will spontaneously combust if he faces the prospect of getting the same hitters out three times in one game. Removing him from the game before trouble strikes seems almost reflexive.
But Hill was through the toughest part of the Boston lineup three times, and he was dealing in a way that should have been fought and honored by a team whose bullpen was down to beaks and claws after an 18-inning game 3. But after he struck out Eduardo Nunez for the third time, that was deemed enough. Roberts bounded out to the mound and did that little double-clap thing he does when he’s pleased with the guy he’s removing, and he took the ball. Hill walked off to a valedictory cheer, which he acknowledged subtly and perhaps begrudgingly as befitting the brand, and all of it feels quaint now.
Manager Dave Roberts takes the ball from Rich Hill in the seventh inning of Game 4. Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images
The historians will note its eerie similarity to Game 2 of the World Series last year against the Astros, when Hill was removed after four innings, one run and three hits. The Astros were privately overjoyed at the development, as the Red Sox were Saturday night. “We were excited down in the bullpen, for sure,” Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly said. “Rich Hill was absolutely on fire.”
With Hill gone, the Red Sox continued to score nine runs in the final three innings to take a 3-1 series lead. The conga line of failure began when Alexander walked the only batter he faced on four pitches, and continued when Ryan Madson gave up a three-run homer to pinch hitter Mitch Moreland, and from then on the game seemed to be an endless cackling taunt of Everything Roberts holds dear.
But after the game, when given the politely but probably pointless chance to explain himself, Roberts said he and Hill had a conversation in the bottom of the sixth that began with Roberts asking his 38-year-old starts how he felt and Hill responded with a less than emphatic answer.
“Keep an eye on me,” Hill said at the moment and later confirmed. “I’m going to give it everything I have, but let’s go hitter two hitter. Just keep an eye on me.”
Who caused everyone in the room to listen to Roberts to break for a second, and maybe examine their souls . The easy story – Roberts as incompetent and quite possibly traitorous – was not going to last through deadline. And in the quiet of penitence, Roberts was asked if it was rare for Hill to issue such a potentially dire warning.
“I’ve never heard it,” Roberts said. “You’re talking about a World Series game where There’s a lot of emotion, intensity, effort, focus – he did everything to put us in position to win a baseball game. “
Mark Teixeira and David Ross offer their opinions on what has gone wrong for Ryan Madson and Kenley Jansen.
Those facts do not absolve Roberts. Reasonable people could assume “keep an eye on me” with a four-run lead during Saturday night’s conditions should be interpreted as “Let me at least give up a run before you take the ball.” Managers talk about getting 27 outs, and it was pretty obvious that Hill was the best bet to get at least two or three more of them. Og det er en gyldig argument at Madson, som har lovet 7 arved runners å score i fire spill, var ikke mannen til å forlade med Game 4 legacy of Rich Hill.
Men hvis det viser sig, en baseball game Only looks like a television show. Instead of smiling anchors throwing red meat at your base instincts, a baseball game is an unpredictable endeavor played by sentient beings whose genius and artistry and fallibility all have backstories that shade more towards the gray than the black and the white.
It does not ‘t mean that Roberts’ decisions did not turn out poorly, or that they did not – in the end – cost the Dodgers their last chance of getting back into this World Series. Det betyder ikke at Rich Hill ikke fortjener at legge til noen flere outs til hans navn før han går ut i natten. Det betyr bare at vi ikke vet alt, og vi vil aldri, som gjør alt annet, som Roberts selv kan si, helt enkelt en manns mening.