Red Sox Recap: Golden Rich Hill, Mookie Betts Saves The Day
The Boston Red Sox may have struck gold by bringing starting pitcher Rich Hill to the team. The 6’5″ lefty may be 35 years old, but his arm was of youthful ace proportions last night. Not that he needed to be, with the team earning seven runs, but Hill went all nine innings to throw a two-hit shutout. That’s something Red Sox Nation hasn’t seen in a long while.
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It was 63 degrees and cloudy as Fenway Park held over 32 400 baseball fans to witness Hill’s amazing performance. He was up against Orioles starter Kevin Gausman, who had a 3-6 record but also had blanked the Red Sox in six innings for the win a couple of weeks ago.
On this night, however, the Red Sox lineup bullied Gausman off of the mound. In the bottom of the third inning, Red Sox star shortstop Xander Bogaerts drove a double to left field that scored Mookie Betts, whom factored in the game even more dramatically later on. Dustin Pedroia would also have scored if he had not been thrown out at the plate.
Gausman must have been feeling the red-hot pressure of Hill’s arm and Boston’s bats, because he threw a wild pitch with Betts batting which brought in Brock Holt in the bottom of the fifth inning.
It didn’t get any easier for Gausman, either. In the bottom of the sixth inning, David Ortiz doubled to right field and drove in both Pedroia and Bogaerts to make the lead 4-0. That knocked Gausman off of Hill’s house, as the Orioles brought in T.J. McFarland for relief. It wasn’t much relief though for Baltimore, as Holt made it a double-fest by driving the ball into left field to score Ortiz.
To make doubles the flavor of the night, Ortiz hit another one off of new reliever Brian Matusz to left field, scoring Bogaerts in the process. Holt broke the double-streak by only hitting a single, but it cashed in Josh Rutledge to put a cap on the Red Sox scoring for the night.
The reason for the relative silence so far about Hill’s night is because of how well he pitched. Bats are supposed to make noise; pitching is supposed to keep the other team’s bats silent. It was a very silent night for most of the Orioles.
The only real trouble everyone thought was going to break that silence was the heavy crack of Chris Davis‘ bat in the top of the ninth inning. With one man aboard, the Orioles must have thought for certain that Davis had crushed the ball over the short fence in right field to salvage two runs from this debacle of a night.
That is, until Betts dove over top of the fence and caught the blazing strike for the out, toppling almost completely over. The dive was reminiscent of Torii Hunter‘s fall in right field in the 2013 playoffs; however, fortunately for Red Sox Nation, Betts made the catch to end the game and preserve Hill’s shutout.
- The Red Sox went 4-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base. The Orioles went 0-for-2 and left only three men on base.
- Boston had nine hits and scored seven runs, but only four Red Sox batters were responsible for them. Bogaerts went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. His batting average is now .325. Holt had a good night as well, went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored.
- Travis Shaw and Deven Marrero played first base and third base, respectively, for Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, who have been shut down. Ramirez is done for the season and the jury is still out on Sandoval. Shaw and Marrero both, ironically, went 0-for-4 on the night.
Not bad for a guy who wasn’t even in the big leagues a few weeks ago. He threw for all nine innings, allowing only two hits, no earned runs, and one walk, while forcing 10 strikeouts. Out of 116 pitches, 81 of them were strikes, earning Hill seven groundouts and three flyouts, including the most unbelievable one caught by Betts in the ninth.
Hill hasn’t started a game in six years, yet he has a 2-0 record with a 1.17 ERA in three starts for the Red Sox. If this keeps up, Hill will be considered found gold for the Red Sox. The team’s need for another solid pitcher has been well documented. Hill’s consistency for the rest of the season will give Dave Dombrowski, the Red Sox president of baseball operations, more options than he probably thought he had for the winter meetings.
Big Papi went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and a run scored, making him the big offensive daddy of the night.
With a consistent effort since the All-Star Break, Ortiz has been the undisputed leader of the team. Is it any wonder why he thinks that the media’s obsession with discussing his retirement is ridiculous?
Defense is often considered normal to be good, and is only noticed when a mistake is made. However, when you make a catch like Betts made in the top of the ninth inning, preserving the shutout win for Hill and the Red Sox, you deserve an award. So, here it is. And remember: always bet on Betts to be the hero when he’s needed.