|Rich Hill: ‘I’m looking forward’ to free agency||10.02.15 at 1:56 pm ET|
Rich Hill was an afterthought earlier this summer, when he was released by the Nationals and out of work. However, since his resurgence as a starter with the Red Sox — a 1.55 ERA through 29 innings over four starts — the left-hander appears to be in good position to get some interest as a free agent.
“I’m looking forward to it,” the 35-year-old told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford of the upcoming offseason. “It’s just that body of work. You can’t look at that and deny what’s going on. Anybody in baseball who knows the game, if you’re looking at it you have to acknowledge there’s a lot there. I think for me, I have to be a proponent of myself and go out there and continue to fight off the field as much as I did off the field.
“The four games I pitched aren’t four games you look at and say, ‘That was just dumb luck.’ I faced the best hitters in the American League, and doing it in the American League East is something that can’t be denied.”
Hill, a native of Milton, is making the big league minimum this season, his 11th in the majors. But he has a newfound confidence following his incredible September.
“I’ve never spoke like this before in the past because for me to be humble is extremely important. But in this part of the game you have to go out and stand up for yourself and that’s something I’m looking forward to doing in the offseason,” Hill said.
“It’s confidence. It’s going out there and saying, ‘I can pitch for anybody, against anybody, anytime, anywhere.’ I feel very [full of conviction].”
For more from Hill, check out Rob Bradford’s column. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.
|Thursday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Rich Hill vs. CC Sabathia||10.01.15 at 8:31 am ET|
After extending their season-high winning streak to six games Wednesday night via a 9-5 win in 11 innings, the Red Sox have the opportunity to complete a sweep at Yankee Stadium for the first time since June 2011 and again keep New York from clinching a postseason berth.
Hill (2-0, 1.17 ERA) has proven to be a remarkable comeback story since being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on Sept. 8. The left-hander, who had not started a major league game since 2009, has yet to lose in his three outings, holding batters to a .127 average.
Hill is the first pitcher since 1900 to make a debut in September or later and have 10 or more strikeouts in each of his first three starts that season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The Milton native most recently saw the Orioles last Friday, throwing a complete-game shutout. He allowed just two hits and one walk during Boston’s 7-0 win.
“For a guy that has resurrected his career in the way that he has, it’s very, very impressive,” interim manager Torey Lovullo said following the game. “You’re starting to get the feel that this is a little bit of a habit.”
Hill has yet to see the Yankees this season, but has faced them nine times (one start) over the course of his career, going 0-1 with a 8.31 ERA over 8 2/3 innings.
|Video: Mookie Betts’ highlight reel catch robs home run, preserves Rich Hill complete game shutout||09.25.15 at 11:11 pm ET|
A leaping catch over the wall to rob a home run is always special, but when the catch preserves a shutout for 35-year-old Rich Hill, it’s very special.
There were two outs in the top of the ninth Friday night and Hill was one out away from his second career complete game shutout. Orioles slugger, and MLB’s home run leader, Chris Davis crushed a pitch to deep right field. Betts raced back to the wall, felt where he was up against it and made a leaping catch to end the game — a 7-0 win over the Orioles.
“When he hit I didn’t know if it was going to go way over, or go over by a little,” Betts said. “I took off running, put my head down, got close to the wall and someway was able to jump and catch it.”
No one was more excited than Hill (see Vine below), as he immediately threw his hands in the air in pure joy.
“What a catch by Mookie,” Hill said. “That was unbelievable.”
“Well, not until he caught it,” he added when asked if he thought Betts had it all the way. “I thought it was actually in the seats. I thought it was a little bit deeper. Obviously after he did catch it I caught a glimpse of my reaction on TV so I think — that was probably, among plays that was the best catch I’ve ever seen.”
For Betts it was just his fifth start in right field at Fenway Park, as he just started playing there at the start of the homestand. The outfielder credited outfield coach Arnie Beyeler for their pregame work together.
“Me and Arnie work a lot around the wall,” Betts said. “He hits a lot of balls for me to get used to, especially being in right field I have to deal with it a little more being on the side as well. He’s done a great job with me getting out early and working every day. It’s starting to translate.”
In typical Betts fashion with anything, he deflected the attention off himself, saying he was just doing his job.
“I’m just trying to do my job and go out and catch the ball,” he said.
‘ Sox Lunch (@Soxlunch) September 26, 2015
Two months ago Rich Hill was pitching in the Independent League and now the left-hander is pitching like the ace of a major league stuff.
Yes, the ace of a major league staff is a bit sarcastic, but the 35-year-old has been dominant in his three major league starts with the Red Sox this month. The latest came Friday night when he led the Red Sox to a 7-0 win over the Orioles.
Hill tossed a complete game, two-hit shutout to pick up his second win of the year. It was his second career complete game shutout, as his first came Sept. 16, 2006 against the Reds when he was with the Cubs.
“That was probably right up there,” Hill said if it was the most fun he’s had on a baseball field. “I can’t put a number on it, but that was a lot of fun. That was great.”
After allowing a leadoff single to open the game, Hill retired 16 straight batters before No. 9 batter Dariel Alvarez reached on an error by Hill when he overthrew first base on a grounder in front of the plate in the sixth. The second hit he allowed came to leadoff the ninth.
The left-hander also struck out 10, the third time in three starts he has done so this season. He has now allowed just three runs in 23 innings pitched this year. For his career he has a career ERA of 1.15 with the Red Sox, the lowest in club history (min. 25 IP).
He is the only AL pitcher in the last 100 years to record at least 10 strikeouts in each of his first three starts with a team. The only other Red Sox pitcher in the last 100 years to record 10 or more strikeouts and one or fewer walks in three straight starts at any point is Pedro Martinez in 1999.
“I’m older and I’ve been able to hone my skills I guess in the last five years and get stronger — get into a good lifting program and it’s a whole, big each piece of the pie kind of fits together and as I’ve gotten older I’ve been able to figure out the most efficient way that works for me to pitch,” Hill said. “This summer all the things fell into place and for me just really stay in that moment and make the pitch the best that I can.
Overall, when I was younger and starting, I don’t think I was as apt to understanding pitching as much as I thought I was. Now, as I’ve gotten older more of that has come along.”
Mookie Betts robbed Chris Davis of a home run to end the game with a leaping catch against the wall of the Red Sox bullpen.
The Red Sox gave Hill more than enough offense as they scored a run in the third on Xander Bogaerts’ double to left, which scored Betts, although Dustin Pedroia was thrown out at the plate trying to score from first to end the inning.
The Sox added another run in the fifth. Brock Holt led off with a walk. Sandy Leon sacrificed him over to second base and then he advanced to third on a groundout by Jackie Bradley Jr. and was able to score on a wild pitch.
Hill (1-0, 1.93 ERA) is making his third start of the year after being called up from Triple-A Pawtucket earlier this month. After having not started a major league game since 2009 with Baltimore, Hill has been stellar in his return to the rotation, shutting down both the Rays and Blue Jays on the road. In the two starts he has allowed eight hits and three runs with 20 strikeouts (10 in each outing) over 14 innings. He is the first Sox pitcher to have 10 strikeouts in his first two starts with the club.
Hill’s last outing was Sunday against the Jays. He went seven innings and allowed three runs while striking out 10 in Boston’s 4-3 win.
“He’s been really special these past two outings,” center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. said following the game. “It’s fun playing behind him, that’s for sure.”
The 35-year-old left-hander is seeing the Orioles for the first time this season, but he has seen them on 10 other occasions in his career, pitching six innings and allowing five hits and one run with six strikeouts.
Hill is making his first home start of the year. He has a 1-0 record with a 2.45 ERA over 18 1/3 innings in his career at Fenway Park.
|Sunday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Rich Hill vs. Mark Buehrle||09.20.15 at 11:21 am ET|
Following Saturday’s ninth-inning comeback — the Red Sox‘ first such victory of the season and the Blue Jays’ first such loss — the Sox close out their series in Toronto as Rich Hill squares off against Mark Buehrle on Sunday afternoon.
The Blue Jays, who despite blowing a two-run lead in the final inning Saturday still have a 3 1/2-game lead over the Yankees for first place in the AL East, host New York for three games starting Monday. But first they’ll take on the Red Sox‘ rejuvenation project.
Hill (0-0, 0.00 ERA) rejoined the Sox this month after a stop in independent league ball followed by a stint with Triple-A Pawtucket. The veteran left-hander transitioned back to a starter after years of relieving, and his first game back was impressive. Last Sunday against the Rays, in his first major league start since 2009, the 35-year-old Milton native allowed only an infield single through seven innings while striking out 10 in a game the Red Sox went on to win 2-0.
“The outing speaks for itself,” interim manager Torey Lovullo said. “It was a pretty special moment for Rich to walk on the mound. Just a great story.”
In nine career appearances (including two starts) against the Jays covering 15 2/3 innings, Hill is 0-1 with a 5.17 ERA.
|Rich Hill contemplating keeping momentum going in Winter Ball||09.14.15 at 8:56 pm ET|
The 35-year-old who offered one of the Red Sox‘ season’s best stories — allowing just one hit over seven innings in his first big league start since 2009 — is setting himself up for the kind of Hot Stove season he couldn’t have previously imagined.
Hill continues to draw interest from Japanese teams, but with his recent success as a starting pitching the potential of entering next year with the chance of joining a major league rotation has him thinking.
It’s why Hill is strongly considering pitching in Winter Ball (perhaps Puerto Rico) in order to keep his momentum going.
“It’s a real possibility, but at the same time we’ll have finished the season with about 12 starts, which is a nice base heading into spring training,” said Hill of playing this winter, which he hadn’t done with 2008. “Hopefully I can be on a staff starting the season.
“I really wouldn’t mind going through an entire offseason continuing to throw because you want to keep that feel.”
When not pitching in any organized league this winter, Hill will be working out with trainer Mike Boyle in Woburn, as was the case last offseason.
The idea of Hill linking up with a team heading into next season should be an intriguing one. While his starting success has been a small sample size (with just the Independent League Long Island Ducks, Triple-A Pawtucket, and now the Red Sox), the lack of wear and tear on his arm over the past few years might play to his advantage.
There is also the wisdom he is bringing to the table this time as a starter he might not have possessed when attempting the role six years ago.
“Getting back into it with the knowledge and education from other major league pitchers, I’ve been able to benefit from that now,” he said. “As opposed to when I was younger and trying to develop my own routine. A big thing is taking from things other pitchers do.
“I’m more patient. I’m not in a rush to make results happen because it is a pitch to pitch process. Watching the other starters, and watching the ebb and the flow of the game, there’s no rush to make things happen.
“I learned how guys worked. For me it was about trying to do as much as I can to get ready for my next start, but that’s not smart. I’m not saying I didn’t go about my business the right, I just wasn’t efficient. There was more quantity rather than quality.”
|Closing Time: Rich Hill’s dominant performance highlights Red Sox’ extra-inning win||09.13.15 at 5:15 pm ET|
Two days, two pretty significant storylines for the Red Sox.
No, the Red Sox‘ 13-inning, 2-0 win over the Rays on Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field wasn’t going to set the baseball world on fire. And while Rusney Castillo’s two-run single in the 13th (giving him three hits for the day) was notable, it wasn’t what will drive the conversation as the Sox leave Florida.
Less than 24 hours after David Ortiz launched two homers to give him 500 for his career, a far less accomplished player offered his own remarkable moment. For Rich Hill, Sunday afternoon wasn’t any ordinary game.
Making his first major league start since July 27, 2009, Hill dazzled through seven innings. The lefty allowed just one hit without giving up a run, while striking out 10 and walking one in his 109-pitch outing.
“He’s always had a really good breaking ball. That’s known. What he was able to do was make adjustments, get a feel,” said Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo, who said Hill will make at least two more starts. “When you’re throwing him one inning as a reliever, there’s not a lot of time to make those touchy-feely adjustments. What Rich was able to do was make the adjustments and throw some quality breaking balls. The thing that stood out to me was when he had to make some pitches, he did. One batter reached second base. The outing speaks for itself. It was just a great outing.”
The only hit off of the 34-year-old came with one out in the third inning when J.P. Arencibia hit a grounder just to the right of Xander Bogaerts, which the shortstop couldn’t quite reel in.
Considering how long it had been since Hill’s last big league start, the results were somewhat remarkable. According to Elias, it had been the longest in between starts for any major league lefty since Brad Thomas drought that lasted from Aug. 11, 2001, until April 24, 2010.
|Red Sox lineup: David Ortiz sits out for Rich Hill’s return||at 10:01 am ET|
With his 500th career home run in the books, David Ortiz will get a day off in the Red Sox‘ series finale against the Rays on Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field. Taking his place in the designated hitter spot will be Allen Craig.
Also getting the start will be Deven Marrero, who slots in at third base against Tampa Bay starter Drew Smyly.
Perhaps the most notable piece of the Red Sox‘ plan is Rich Hill taking the hill as a starting pitcher for the first time sine July 27, 2009. According to Elias, the last left-handed pitcher to go at least six years between major league starts was Brad Thomas, who started on Aug. 11, 2001, and then again April 24, 2010.
Hill will attempt to continue the recent run by Red Sox starters, who have posted a 2.65 ERA in the last eight contests.
Here is the Red Sox lineup:
Mookie Betts, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
Travis Shaw, 1B
Rusney Castillo, LF
Allen Craig, DH
Deven Marrero, 3B
Sandy Leon, C
Jackie Bradley Jr., RF
|Sunday’s Red Sox-Rays matchups: Rich Hill vs. Drew Smyly||at 9:08 am ET|
The 35-year-old Hill, a native of Milton, was in the Sox organization from 2010 to 2012 and again in 2014 before being traded to the Angels midseason. His last stint in the majors came with the Yankees late last year. He was in the Nationals organization to start this season before being released in June. Rather than look for another deal as a reliever, Hill joined the independent league Long Island Ducks and impressed the Sox enough to earn a look as a starter.
“It is special,” Hill said of his latest opportunity with his hometown team. “It’s special to be home, it really is. Somebody asked me if it was improbable. I may have said yes, but that was really my goal — to get back and to start.”
After being signed to a minor league deal on Aug. 10 by the Sox, Hill went 3-2 with an ERA of 2.78 in five starts with Pawtucket before being called up. The left-hander will look to start his rejuvenated career on a positive note Sunday afternoon as part of Boston’s six-man September rotation.
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