One of my favorite things right now is LVBPTV, which features streaming live, and recorded, coverage of Venezuelan games.
Tonight, Rich Hill, pitching for Aragua, faced Caracas and made his second appearance on Venezuelan TV. I think you can get the "Max" channel with some DirecTV packages, and hopefully the MLB Network will cover these games in the future. For now, so-so quality streaming video is all I've got.
There were issues with the broadcast, so I haven't seen the first inning yet. It started with a single, followed by a Matt Murton grounder that Ronny Cedeno turned into a six-four-three double play. Cubs, and ex-Cubs all over this game.
In the second, Hill threw two nice curveballs, one a first pitch strike. Still, you could see he was missing spots with the fastball, and only threw one slider.
With two out, Rich threw eight straight balls to put two on. On one pitch, he dropped down almost side arm (or so it looked), and seemed to be speeding up his delivery on others.
What followed was a stern talking to by the manager or pitching coach (not sure which), which seemed to work.
Hill got Gregorio Petit on a generous third strike. The zone was so generous on that call, Petit really let the umpire have it between innings. As they played back the outburst after the commercial break, I was amazed, but not surprised, that Petit wasn't ejected.
Randy Newsom (a true sidearming lefty), who is idling in the Caracas bullpen, has been blogging about his stay in Venezuela, and recently mentioned how it seems impossible to get tossed.
Hill's third inning started with another called third strike. This one legitimate, on a nice big curveball that finished up and away, but a clear strike. That type of pitch isn't fair to hitters. The second hitter of the inning was also called out on strikes, this time a nice slider.
The next man up was Murton, who went 2-2 on another ridiculous curveball. After fouling one off, Murton ripped a double into left-center. Sam Fuld cut the ball off, but he couldn't get anything on the throw. On a 2-2 count, Murton stole third without a throw.
Murton was plated when a 3-2 grounder deflected off Hill. Cedeno barehanded the ball but threw it wide of first. The ball got past everyone, but bounced of the wall quickly, and Jesus Guzman could not advance. With Guzman at first, Hill got Josh Kroeger looking at a slider, after slinging one more pitch sidearm.
Hill's half of the fourth, after Aragua tied the game in the third on a Franklin Morales balk, started with a fly to Fuld. It was the second time Hill got a batter on a high fly off his curveball.
Carlos Maldanado got a first pitch curve, for a strike, but managed to stroke an 0-2 curve past Cedeno in the hole for a single and stole second.
Maldanado's swipe put pressure on Hill, and he responded by issuing a walk, putting two men on for Petit. Petit reached on a fielders choice, putting runners at the corners with two out. With two more curveballs, one taken for a strike, one for a weak grounder to third, Hill escaped again.
That was it for Hill, as he racked-up 82 pitches in those four innings, according to Gameday. Hill allowed one run on four hits and three walks. He struck-out four and showed both sides of his game - the good and the bad.
Rich threw a lot of good first pitch curves, seemed to drop his arm a few times on lefties, and managed to look good, even very good, at times. But, fragile is the best word to describe him, and talented is the second best word. Rich Hill has a world class curveball, there's no doubt about that.