Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts ended Friday night’s game against the Orioles by robbing Chris Davis of a home run. The blast would have ended starter Rich Hill’s bid for a shutout. The Red Sox took the first game of the three-game set 7-0.
Hill, in the outing, limited the O’s to two hits and a walk while striking out 10. The 35-year-old lefty made his season debut on September 13, making his first major league start since 2009. Now with three starts under his belt, his stats are mind-blowing considering where he’s been in recent years:
Red Sox starter Rich Hill dominated the Rays on Sunday afternoon, making his first start since 2009. The well-traveled left-hander tossed seven shutout innings, yielding only one hit and one walk while striking out 10 batters as the Red Sox enjoyed a 2-0 victory.
Hill, 35, spent the 2010-12 seasons with the Red Sox but accrued only 31 2/3 innings due to elbow and forearm injuries. He spent time with the Indians, Angels, and Yankees prior to signing a minor league deal with the Nationals in late February. The Nationals, however, released Hill in June and the Red Sox signed him to a minor league deal in August.
Hill’s game score of 84 ranks as the second-best start of his career. The only better game resulted in a 92 game score, when he threw nine shutout innings on two hits and a walk with 10 strikeouts against the Reds on September 16, 2006. Entering Sunday’s action, only 74 of over 4,200 games started this season (less than two percent) resulted in a game score of 84 or better.
The Nationals have agreed to terms with left-hander Rich Hill on a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Hill, who turns 35 next month, bounced around three different organizations last year and mostly pitched in the minors. The sidearmer had a 3.38 ERA in 16 appearances between the Angels and Yankees and posted a 2.93 ERA in 29 appearances at the Triple-A level with New York and Boston. Hill pitched with the Indians in 2013 and struggled to the tune of a 6.28 ERA and 51/29 K/BB ratio over 38 2/3 innings.
Hill could compete for a job as a left-handed specialist this spring. He has held left-handed batters to a .216 batting average in his career.
Derek Jeter began his final home series in style tonight, driving in a season-high three runs in a 5-0 victory over the Orioles. Oh, and in other news, Michael Pineda, Shawn Kelley, Rich Hill, and David Phelps combined for a one-hitter. Hey, it’s easy to get overshadowed by Jeter right now.
Pineda was completely dominant in the win, striking out eight batters while issuing just one walk over 7 1/3 innings. The lone hit came on a one-out single from J.J. Hardy in the fifth inning. The 25-year-old right-hander now owns a 1.97 ERA in eight starts since coming off the disabled list and a 1.93 ERA in 10 starts overall this season.
Jeter had an RBI groundout in the third inning and later ripped a double into the left field corner in the fifth to score two more runs. By driving in three runs tonight, he passed Hall of Famers Enos Slaughter and Roberto Clemente on the all-time RBI list and is now tied with Paul Molitor for 109th all-time with 1,307 RBI. The 40-year-old has caught fire with only days remaining in his career, batting .417 (10-for-24) with four extra-base hits and six RBI over his last six games.
It wasn’t all bad news for the Orioles tonight. The Tigers lost to the White Sox, so Baltimore has clinched home-field advantage for the ALDS.
This afternoon the Yankees declined to pull back Matt Thornton when he was claimed on waivers by the Nationals, giving away the 37-year-old left-hander. And now to replace him in the bullpen they’ve called up 34-year-old left-hander Rich Hill from Triple-A.
Thornton had a 2.55 ERA and 20/6 K/BB ratio in 25 innings, but struggled with inherited runners, never really gained the trust of manager Joe Girardi as more than a situational southpaw, and is owed $3.5 million for 2015.
Of course, Hill’s previous stint in the majors this season came with the Angels and he failed to retire any of the four batters he faced before being released. And last year he had a 6.28 ERA in 39 innings for the Indians.
So how did he convince the Yankees to call him up as Thornton’s replacement? Hill made four appearances at Triple-A, allowing zero runs and striking out 10 of the 16 batters he faced.