Rich Hill had the reputation for essentially being a five-inning pitcher at this stage of his career when the Mets acquired him in July from the Rays.
The 41-year-old lefty has recorded exactly 15 outs in five of his six starts since the trade after allowing two runs in the third inning of Friday’s dreary 2-1 loss to the Nationals at Citi Field.
The careening Mets’ 19th loss in 25 games certainly was the result of another feeble night by their lineup, but Hill, who pitched five innings, blamed himself for his hiccup in the third.
“It’s disappointing just having that third inning. I expect more out of myself, to be able to keep the other team at bay and give us a chance to win the ballgame,” said Hill, who is still seeking his first win as a Met (0-2). “So I think that third inning, I take the blame for this one. You gotta keep throwing up zeroes. Unfortunately that third inning, they were able to get a couple of runs.”
Hill actually worked at least six innings in seven of his 19 starts with Tampa Bay earlier this season. He now sports a 4.83 ERA over seven appearances (six starts) since joining the Mets.
The 17-year veteran made it through one lineup turn unscathed before loading the bases without recording an out in the third. He allowed two runs in the inning, on an infield out by Soto and a run-scoring single by Josh Bell for a 2-0 Nationals lead.
Hill escaped further damage by striking out both Carter Kieboom and Lane Thomas with two runners in scoring position, but the reeling Mets managed just a fourth-inning solo home run by Javier Baez against Washington starter Paulo Espino and four relievers in dropping to 6-19 in August.
“I know moving forward that we have to start winning and that’s on everybody’s mind,” said Hill, who struck out eight and walked none over 91 pitches. “I can only throw in my own self-evaluation and look towards that third inning, if we keep them to even just one run. The other way you can look at it is they could have scored more runs. But in hindsight, I expect a better job out of myself.”