In 2004, Rich Hill was among the nearly 3.2 million fans who turned out for the Red Sox victory parade following the team’s first World Series win in 86 years. Five years later, the Boston native will have a significant reason to root against the club he rooted for while growing up: he’ll be facing them on the mound for the first time in his career.
While it may be difficult for Hill to face the team he grew up admiring, he certainly can’t afford to let distractions get in the way of his performance. In eight starts this season, Hill has gone 3-2 with a bloated 6.03 ERA – not to mention, he’s only twice managed to stay in the game for over six innings in 2009.
His counterpart tonight is John Smoltz, another pitcher who will be looking to find his form. Following a lengthy recovery from shoulder surgery to start the season, Smoltz finally pitched his first game in a Sox uniform last Thursday against the Washington Nationals, lasting only five innings and giving up five earned runs.
Though Smoltz allowed four runs in a rough first inning last week, he eventually settled down and allowed just one run on three hits over the next four innings in Washington. He’s finally healthy, and he’ll be pitching against an Orioles team that has dropped five of their last seven and currently occupy last place in the AL East. What’s more, the Orioles are winless against the Sox this season.
Smoltz has faced the Orioles just six times in his career, going 1-1 with a 4.37 ERA against the Bird.
ORIOLES VS. SMOLTZ
Robert Andino (9 career plate appearances against Smoltz): 1-for-9, 6 strikeouts
Gregg Zaun (9): 1-for-8, walk, 5 strikeouts
Ty Wigginton (7): 3-for-7, strikeout
Aubrey Huff (5): 1-for-4, walk, strikeout
Brian Roberts (5): 2-for-5
Luke Scott (3): 0-for-2, HBP
Melvin Mora (1): 0-for-1, strikeout
RED SOX VS. HILL
Jason Bay (16 career plate appearances against Hill): 1-for-14, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts
Mike Lowell (1): 1-for-1