Rich Hill dazzles in his first start since 2009

AP Photo
2 Comments

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.

Shohei Ohtani agrees to $30 million deal for 2023 with Angels

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani agreed to a $30 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels for the 2023 season in the two-way superstar’s final year of arbitration eligibility before free agency.

The Angels announced the deal, avoiding a potentially complicated arbitration case with the 2021 AL MVP.

Ohtani’s deal is fully guaranteed, with no other provisions. The contract is the largest ever given to an arbitration-eligible player, surpassing the $27 million given to Mookie Betts by the Boston Red Sox in January 2020, a month before he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Ohtani is having another incredible season at the plate and on the mound for the Angels, regularly accomplishing feats that haven’t occurred in the major leagues since Babe Ruth’s heyday. He is a strong contender for the AL MVP award again alongside the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, who has tied the AL home run record and is closing in on the batting Triple Crown.

Ohtani is batting .276 with 34 homers, 94 RBIs and a .888 OPS as the Halos’ designated hitter. He is 15-8 with a 2.35 ERA and 213 strikeouts as their ace on the mound, and opponents are batting only .207 against him.

The 28-year-old Ohtani still will be a free agent after the 2023 season, and his future could be tied to the immediate fortunes of the Angels, who will complete their seventh consecutive losing season next week. The Angels didn’t trade Ohtani at the deadline despite being out of the playoff race again, and Ohtani is wildly popular among the club’s fans.

Ohtani repeatedly has said winning will be an important factor in choosing his home beyond 2023, and Angels owner Arte Moreno is currently exploring a sale of the team.

Moreno’s leadership has been widely criticized during the Angels’ mostly miserable run of play since 2009, and a fresh start with deep-pocketed new owners could be the best chance to persuade Ohtani to stay with the franchise he joined in 2018 from Japan. Ohtani immediately won the AL Rookie of the Year award, and he rounded into unique form last season after recovering fully from Tommy John surgery.