Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is quickly becoming a modern-day Preston Gomez.
Roberts pulled Rich Hill after Hill threw seven innings of perfect baseball Saturday, and the bullpen couldn’t complete what could have been the majors’ first combined perfecto as the Dodgers topped the Marlins in Miami 5-0.
Outfielder Yasiel Puig had just saved Hill’s perfect game in the seventh with a spectacular diving catch, and it was beginning to look like Hill might be poised to throw baseball’s 24th perfecto/296th no-hitter.
But Manager Dave Roberts decided to pull Hill after 89 pitches, opting for reliever Joe Blanton, and Hill clearly wasn’t happy. Blanton retired the first two batters before the pesky Jeff Francoeur drilled a 2-2 pitch off the glove of shortstop Corey Seager. It (weak argument here) could have been ruled an error, which would have killed the combined perfecto but kept the combined no-no intact, but it was properly ruled a base hit.
(Note that Rich Hill threw 5 2/3 innings of no-hit ball back on Sept. 3.)
The situation prompted flashbacks to April 9, when the Dodgers’ Ross Stripling tossed 7⅓ innings of no-hit ball in his first major-league appearance before being pulled for a reliever who lost the no-no. When Stripling hit 100 pitches, Roberts took the ball and handed it to Chris Hatcher, who yielded a two-run homer to Trevor Brown to kill the chance of a combined no-hitter and even the score at 2-2. The Giants wound up winning that game in the bottom of the 10th on a walk-off homer by Brandon Crawford.
Preston Gomez, of course, is known for twice pulling pitchers with no-hitters intact in which they were trailing in the runs column, once with the Padres’ Clay Kirby in 1970 and another with the Astros’ Don Wilson in 1974.
On a personal note, I was watching the MLB.tv broadcast of the game’s late innings on my cell phone while sitting at U.S. Cellular Field. (Fans around me were wondering why I kept looking down at my phone when the Sox had the bases loaded.)