Left-hander Rich Hill will come off the injured list to make his second start of the season on Wednesday when the Minnesota Twins face the Milwaukee Brewers in the second game of a three-game series in Minneapolis.
The 40-year-old Hill (1-0, 0.00 ERA) was outstanding in his Minnesota debut back on July 29, holding the visiting St. Louis Cardinals to two hits and a walk over five innings in a 3-0 victory. He threw 68 pitches, 41 for strikes.
However, Hill went on the 10-day injured list a few days later with left shoulder fatigue. He has been lobbying manager Rocco Baldelli for over a week to let him return to the starting rotation, but the Twins have exercised caution in bringing him back too quickly.
“(Hill has) been so excited, we’ve almost had to fend him off with a stick out of the office to keep him away, because he’s so adamant,” Baldelli told MLB.com last week. “We’re going to make sure he’s built up, he’s recovering fine after he throws, and he’s ready to go.”
Hill is 3-1 with a 3.35 ERA in nine career appearances and eight starts against Milwaukee.
The Brewers will counter with left-hander Brett Anderson (0-2, 4.91), who is 3-3 with a 3.91 ERA in 10 career appearances and eight starts against Minnesota, including 1-1 with a 2.88 ERA in four starts at Target Field.
Both pitchers will have to be on top of their game to come close to matching the effort of Kenta Maeda in the Twins’ 4-3 victory in 12 innings in the series opener on Tuesday night.
Maeda threw eight no-hit innings before Eric Sogard led off the ninth with a soft liner just out of reach of shortstop Jorge Polanco. Maeda also had a stretch between the third and fifth innings where he struck out a team-record eight consecutive batters, just one off the American League record.
Maeda, who left after Sogard’s hit, threw a career-high 115 pitches, 78 for strikes, and finished with 12 strikeouts and two walks.
However, he didn’t even get a decision after the Brewers rallied for three runs in the ninth to send the game into extra innings. The Twins then pulled it out on Polanco’s infield single that drove in Byron Buxton from third base in the 12th inning.
“That was one of the best games I’ve ever seen pitched in baseball,” Baldelli said.
“It was a great baseball game with everything that happened in it,” said Brewers manager Craig Counsell. “I thought we battled hard, and they did too. They got an unbelievable pitching performance from (Maeda).”
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for Milwaukee, which has lost three of four meetings with Minnesota this season.
Counsell said he was impressed with the way his team battled back in the ninth against Twins closer Taylor Rogers after Maeda’s departure to send the contest into extra innings
“We had a nice ninth inning with some good at-bats,” Counsell said. “But, in the end, we weren’t able to score in the extra frames. To me that was the story. It wasn’t how they scored, but it was just we weren’t able to score.”
–Field Level Media