Hill's climb to an amazing start keyed by efficiency

Rich Hill had his best stuff on Wednesday, except for his final pitch. Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

So Rich Hill didn’t get the perfect game, the no-hitter or even the win.

But it’s amazing that he was even in position to get as far as he did.

Hill was the second starting pitcher in the past 10 seasons to throw a pitch in the 10th inning, joining Cliff Lee. He did so while taking a perfect game into the ninth inning and a no-hitter into the 10th. Hill is the first pitcher to lose a no-hit bid in the 10th inning since Pedro Martinez of the 1995 Expos against the Padres.

What made Hill so great in this game?


Hill allowed the walk-off home run on his 99th pitch of the night. On that pitch, he went from throwing a "Maddux" (the term for a sub-100-pitch shutout) to throwing a "Haddix" (he shares a bond with Harvey Haddix, who lost a perfect game and no-hitter in the 13th inning).

Hill got 18 of his 27 outs in three or fewer pitches. He has averaged 6.7 such outs in his other 18 starts this season.

This was an unusual start for Hill, in that he relied on his fastball. He threw it 64 percent of the time, his second-highest fastball rate of the season.

Hill got 18 outs on 63 fastballs, which matched the number he got in his previous three starts combined (encompassing 133 pitches). He had an 81 percent strike rate with his fastball, his highest in a start the past two seasons.

But the fastball did yield Josh Harrison’s walk-off home run. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that this is the first time in major league history that a walk-off home run broke up a no-hitter.

Even so, Hill has been awesome since the start of September 2015. His 2.56 ERA since the start of that month ranks second among pitchers with at least 40 starts in that span. The only pitcher better is his teammate, Clayton Kershaw (1.84).

It's not bad for a 37-year-old who would have been the second-oldest pitcher to throw a perfect game. Randy Johnson, who threw one for the 2004 Diamondbacks, is the oldest (age 40).