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Dodgers' Hill plays to crowd

Bill Shaikin, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Baseball

LOS ANGELES--There is a time to stand up for your teammates, for justice, for what you believe to be right.

This, presumably, was not that time. This was the World Series, and an elimination game at that. So that might have been the greatest testament to what Rich Hill did Tuesday: He put his sense of right and wrong ahead of winning and losing, at least for a few moments.

It had been four days since Yuli Gurriel of the Houston Astros had slanted his eyes and used a racial slur to mock Yu Darvish, the Dodgers' Japanese-born pitcher.

Hill still was bothered that Commissioner Rob Manfred had decided not to suspend Gurriel during the World Series.

"I think, if you're in any other type of business and you do something like that, you wouldn't have a job the next day," Hill said.

Hill drew the start in the Dodgers' first home game since then, and he arrived at Dodger Stadium with two priorities. He wanted to keep the Dodgers' season alive, of course, but he also wanted to oblige a Dodger Stadium crowd that would dispense all the punishment Gurriel would get this year. The five-game suspension Manfred imposed on Gurriel does not start until next season.

With his every at-bat on Tuesday, and with every pitch of every at-bat, the crowd unleashed a fury of boos upon Gurriel. This was a level of sustained vocal disdain that Dodger Stadium never had mustered for Barry Bonds.

And Hill was Gustavo Dudamel, with a ball rather than a baton, silently conducting the crowd, pausing time and again to let a cascade of boos rain down upon Gurriel.

Hill stepped off the mound so the crowd could jeer, made a pitch, stepped off the mound for another round of jeers, made another pitch. He turned into a veritable Pedro Baez, lingering between pitches so the crowd could rev up its vocal cords once again.

"I think the one thing was just to let the crowd speak their mind," Hill said. "I didn't think anything else would be as loud as that. The people spoke. I left it to that, and that was it.

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