Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe this evening that “it’s conceivable” Rich Hill could be activated from the disabled list this weekend while the club is in Chicago. See, who needs Carl Crawford?
Hill reinvented himself as a sidearmer last year and posted a 12/3 K/BB ratio over eight scoreless innings with the Red Sox before undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery in June. The 32-year-old left-hander has been very solid during his minor league rehab assignment, posting a 2.00 ERA and an 18/2 K/BB ratio over nine innings between Class A Greenville, High-A Salem and Triple-A Pawtucket. The Red Sox have seen him top out at 93 mph with his fastball.
More help for Boston’s beleaguered bullpen could soon follow, as Mark Melancon has struck out six over 3 1/3 scoreless innings since his demotion last week. The Red Sox have also converted prospect right-hander Alex Wilson from a starter to a reliever this week to prepare him for the major leagues.
So much for a last-minute, nail-biting finish to this division race. The Braves cemented their division title with a dominant 5-3 finish over the Phillies on Saturday, laying claim to the NL East title for the first time since 2013.
The Braves asserted themselves right off the bat after amassing a four-run lead from Johan Camargo and Freddie Freeman, both of whom cleared the bases with two-run singles in the first two innings. Ronald Acuna Jr., meanwhile, found another way to make his presence known after swiping his 15th stolen base of the year and joining Alex Rodriguez, Orlando Cepeda, and Mike Trout as one of the youngest players to collect at least 25 home runs and 15 stolen bags in major league history.
Not to be outdone, Atlanta right-hander Mike Foltynewicz delivered one of the strongest starts of his season to date. The righty set down six innings of no-hit ball against the Phillies, and, with just 62 pitches under his belt, looked ready to go the distance before he lost his bid on Odubel Herrera‘s leadoff single in the seventh.
Unfortunately for the Braves, the Phillies not only upended Foltynewicz’s no-hit attempt, but the shutout as well. In the eighth inning, Cesar Hernandez and Rhys Hoskins wrestled two RBI singles from Atlanta’s bullpen and brought Philadelphia within one run of tying the game. Hoskins was the last Phillies batter to reach base, however, as Jonny Venters and Arodys Vizcaino tossed a combined 1 2/3 scoreless innings (backed by a final RBI hit from Kurt Suzuki in the bottom of the eighth) to cap the Braves’ win — and the NL East title.
With the loss, the Phillies sit seven games back of a wild card spot in the National League. They’ll need to outpace the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Cardinals in order to make 2018 their first postseason-qualifying year since 2011.