BOSTON—In 2009, Rich Hill was a struggling left-hander with the Orioles, compiling a 7.80 earned-run average in 13 starts. Thirteen years later, Hill, who has pitched for 11 major league teams, is a successful starter for the Boston Red Sox at 42.
Hill got through six scoreless innings, throwing a season-high 100 pitches, to lead the Red Sox to a 3-1 win over the Orioles before an announced crowd of 33,073 at Fenway Park on Wednesday night.
On September 11th, Hill baffled the Orioles on two hits in five scoreless innings. He followed that with five hits over six innings, striking out nine and walking one.
“Pretty much what he does to us,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Changes speeds. We don’t hit many balls hard, singles sprinkled around, but no rallies, very disappointing.”
The Orioles had two hits in the third and fourth but didn’t score against Hill (8-7).
In the third, Terrin Vavra led off with a single and was thrown out trying for second base by leftfielder Tommy Pham. Ryan McKenna hit a two-out double, but Ryan Mountcastle struck out. Mountcastle struck out in each of his four at-bats.
Shortly before gametime, Mountcastle, who was listed as the first baseman, was switched to designated hitter, and Jesús Aguilar, who was supposed to be the designated hitter, played first instead. Hyde said there was nothing wrong with Mountcastle.
Austin Hays and Tyler Nevin singled with two outs in the fourth, and Jorge Mateo flied to right.
The Orioles (80-75) have lost four of five and began play trailing Seattle by 3 ½ games for the final American League wild-card spot with seven games to play.
Catcher Robinson Chirinos hit his fourth home run against Kaleb Ort in the eighth for the Orioles’ only run.
Gunnar Henderson, who was on the bench with Adley Rutschman and Cedric Mullins to start the game, walked against Matt Barnes in the ninth after Hays had hit into a 6-3 double play for the second time in two nights. Rutschman, who was pinch-hitting for Mateo, was called out while attempting to check his swing. Rutschman stood in the batter’s box, a look of disappointment on his face.
Hyde also didn’t start Mullins, Henderson and Rutschman in Hill’s previous start.
In the first two games of the series against Boston (74-81), the Orioles scored 14 runs on 29 hits. They had just one run on seven hits against Hill and three relievers.
Oriole starter Dean Kremer (8-6) who threw a four-hit shutout on September 24th, allowed three runs in five-plus innings.
“Stuff overall, didn’t really command it … I had four walks,” Kremer said. “It was a grind all the way around.”
Chirinos caught Kremer for the sixth time this season.
“Even warming up in the bullpen, I can tell, his stuff, it was not there tonight,” Chirinos said. “I told him walking back to the dugout, ‘Today’s the day you have to compete, grind, try to give this team a chance to win a game and he did that. I’m proud of him, the way he competed today, especially not having his best stuff.”
Kremer, Jordan Lyles and Kyle Bradish each pitched brilliantly in their previous starts with Kremer and Lyles throwing complete games and Bradish coming within an out of one.
In their starts against the Red Sox, Lyles pitched two innings and came out because of a 1-hour, 40-minute rain delay. Bradish allowed seven runs in 2 1/3 innings.
“Jordan had a two-inning rain delay start, Bradish wasn’t as sharp last night and Dean wasn’t sharp early today,” Hyde said. “These are growing pains these guys are going to be going through. They’re new to the league and haven’t pitched a whole lot in the big leagues, and they haven’t pitched a six-month season before. These are experiences that are going to make them better going forward.”
In the first, an RBI single by Alex Verdugo scored Rafael Devers, who hit a ground-rule double.
Abraham Almonte hit his first home run in the third for a 2-0 Boston lead, and Verdugo led off he sixth with his 11th home run.
In his previous 10 starts, Kremer allowed just two home runs. This was just the second time in 20 starts he allowed multiple home runs.
Keegan Akin, who relieved Kremer just after he was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk, pitched three scoreless innings, allowing only one hit.
“That was huge where our bullpen is right now,” Hyde said. “That was big for us for tomorrow.”
Chirinos studies the standings and is realistic.
“The last couple of losses have been hard,” Chirinos said. “If you’re looking back at spring training, the way we started the season, I think that everybody in that clubhouse should be proud of what we accomplished this year.
“We still have a chance, and that’s the only thing you can ask for. Seven games to go, hopefully Seattle loses tonight, and we’re still 3 ½ tomorrow, and go and try to win the next seven games. You never know. In this game, you never know what’s going to happen, especially at the end. We’re going to come here tomorrow and try to win a game tomorrow.”
Notes: Mike Baumann (1-3, 4.32) will face Nathan Eovaldi (5-3, 4.15) on Thursday at 1:35 p.m. … Second baseman Connor Norby had four hits and hit his fourth home run as Triple-A Norfolk ended its season with a 5-3 loss to Jacksonville. Norby hit a combined 29 home runs for Double-A Bowie and Norfolk. The Tides’ final record was 74-76. … At 38 years and 115 days, Chirinos is the oldest Oriole to homer at Fenway Park since Rafael Palmeiro on September 22nd, 2004 (39 days, 364 days).