Sep 25, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher
(62) pitches against the Baltimore Orioles during the first inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
2) Rich Hill‘s Complete Game Shutout
So if before September 13th the words “Rich Hill” made you think about a 2014 docu-drama movie about how hard life is in rural Missouri, then I don’t blame you. You may well have vaguely remembered there was such a pitcher who was a bullpen LOOGY with the Red Sox between 2010-2012. Certainly not a starter, let alone a history making starter.
Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Rich Hill. After coming from the Long Island Ducks to cover gaping holes in the Pawtucket rotation, he impressed and was brought up to do the same in Boston. For once the clickbait titles were correct, you would never guess what happened next – he dominated.
His debut against Tampa Bay saw him go 7 innings of one hit ball, striking out 10. His second game against Toronto, the best hitting club in baseball, was 7 innings with 3 earned runs on 7 hits and 10 strikeouts. Then number three against Baltimore was a complete game of 2 hits, no runs and 10 k’s. Seeing a pattern here? Yep, Rich Hill became the first American League pitcher in 100 years to fan 10+ batters per game in each of his first three starts for a club. Unbelievable.
Surely the highlight was the Baltimore game, a complete game against a team well able to rake when required, allowing only a mere two hits. He was absolutely dominant. Throwing strike after strike, not a single one of his pitches was lacking. His fastball may not have broken much above 90 MPH, but batters simply couldn’t live with it’s bamboozling movement and placement. His curveball had breath-taking bite and was borderline unhittable by a team more than capable of hitting.
Ah, but with the last pitch of the game the shutout almost went south. Chris Davis, Majors leader in home runs this year, smacked what surely looked like an addition to his tally to the right field wall. Only it didn’t. Making a stunning diving catch into the bullpen Mookie Betts managed to reel in it in and end the game. TV replays showed Rich mouthing what we were all thinking.
An incredible ending to an incredible game, perhaps even Boston’s very best this year, that saw hits from all over the park, including three doubles from David Ortiz. The story though belongs to Rich Hill and who would have guessed the Red Sox would find themselves pondering his inclusion in the 2016 rotation after displaying top of the rotation potential? After his complete game shutout, I’m not surprised at all.
Next: David Ortiz hits his 500th HR