In one of the more improbable stories of 2015, Boston Red Sox pitcher Rich Hill took the mound for his second start of the year and dominated the Toronto Blue Jays in an eventual 4-3 win for the Boston Red Sox.
Facing the top offensive team in the American League, Hill struck out 10 batters for the second consecutive start, while allowing just three runs in seven innings of work. Hill left the game with the score tied at 3-3, but the Red Sox were able to push across the game winning run in the 8th inning on a Jackie Bradley Jr. sacrifice fly– thus allowing Hill to pick up his first win of 2015.
Despite his two dazzling seven inning outings, Hill only has one victory to show for it.
It’s not impossible for any pitcher to string together a pair of solid outings, but for Hill, a pitcher who hadn’t made a regular season start in 2009, it appeared like a daunting task.
As noted by Jarred Carrabis of Barstool Sports, Hill has already accomplished things that more established members of the Red Sox pitching staff haven’t done.
In his second start this season, Rich Hill already has more games of 9 strikeouts or more than Rick Porcello.
— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) September 20, 2015
In his second start, Rich Hill tied Clay Buchholz for the most 10+ strikeout games by a Red Sox starter this season. — Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) September 20, 2015
Not only have Hill’s two September starts put him in decent company with his fellow Red Sox teammates, it has also put him in the history books.
Rich Hill : 2nd in modern era to make season debut in September & have consecutive 10-K starts (Karl Spooner, 1954 Dodgers) (@eliassports)
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 20, 2015
Before being brought back the Red Sox for his third stint with the team, Hill spent of a portion of 2015 with the independent league Long Island Ducks. Prior to signing with the Ducks, Hill was in the Washington Nationals organization under a minor league contract (per MLB Trade Rumors), but was released in late-June.
The 35-year-old southpaw first debuted with the Chicago Cubs in 2005. His most productive season as a starter came in 2007, when he went 11-8 with a 3.92 ERA in 195 innings pitched. After being traded from the Cubs to the Baltimore Orioles in 2009, Hill bounced around the league, making stops with the St. Louis Cardinals, Red Sox (twice), New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels, and Cleveland Indians.
Also, Hill’s journey around baseball did not come without personal tragedy. In Spring Training last season, Hill’s infant son passed away from what Hill described to be “multiple health issues,” per ESPN. A native of Milton, Mass., Hill expressed gratitude toward the Red Sox organization for their help during his difficult time. So, Hill does have a sentimental attachment to the team.
Just two weeks remain in the regular season for the disappointing Red Sox, who sit at 71-77, good for a last place tie with the Tampa Rays in the AL East. But if Hill can string together a few more starts like this, he could pitch his way into the Red Sox plans for 2016.
[Image by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images]