Baltimore Orioles Can’t Get Over the Hill – Rich Hill


Sep 25, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts (2) slides into home against Baltimore Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph (L) during the eighth inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Orioles faced one of the best pitching efforts seen in a long, long time. Their own former player, Rich Hillthrew a complete game, two-hit shutout, as the Red Sox took the series opener 7-0. Apart from leadoff singles by Nolan Reimold in the first inning and Dariel Alvarez in the ninth, there would have been no hits at all.

Given the frequent offensive troubles of the Baltimore Orioles during this season, there is a temptation to speculate that Hill simply looked so good because the O’s are that bad. Not true. It was legit. And the story is amazing.

Before I get into some background details on this story, I have to confess that writing about Rich Hill is pulling a name out of the past … feels like the distant past, to be frank. So far back,  I have never written about him before. It seems like so long ago that I would almost speculate (without checking the details) that I must have played against him in college — in the 70s! He is actually only age 35, as if 35 is young for a guy making only the 73rd start of his career.

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Buck Showalter talks all the time about how certain players are late bloomers. But this is ridiculous! Hill has made three starts here in the month of September, giving up only three earned runs on 10 hits in 23 innings, while striking out 30.

After being released in June by the Washington Nationals, he actually pitched two games (11 innings, zero runs on two hits) for the Long Island Ducks of the Independent Atlantic League!!  Who knew playing for the Ducks was the fast track back to the majors?

This second stint with the Boston Red Sox is just a part of the six total teams for whom he has made appearances since 2005. He pitched four years for the Cubs (05-08), a portion of one for the Orioles (in 2009), three for Boston (10-12), one for Cleveland (13), and split last year between the Angels and Yankees. His only truly good season was an 11-8 year with the Cubs in 2007 (3.92 ERA in 195 innings). Actually, 40% of his career innings pitched in the Big Leagues were in that one season.

Give the guy credit for hanging around so long! Counting his six MLB teams, over his career he has played for a total of 22 teams, including 14 in the minors, one independent, and one in winter ball. That is a lot of uniforms and caps to collect. For all of this, he has made a little bit more than three million dollars. While that is more than I have made in that time, Ubaldo collects by comparison that much in about seven or eight starts!

Hill’s ball movement was very impressive, especially the sweeping curve that had great depth as well as lateral movement. It very much reminded me of what Erik Bedard looked like in 2007 in his 13-5 season before being traded to bring back Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, etc.  Bedard was awesome that year, and that is what Hill was on Friday night.

This was yet another game where the Orioles got nothing offensively for starter Kevin Gausman. Though he gave up five runs in five innings, his stuff was not as bad as that sounds. He pitched well over much of that time, and it is evident that he is just a click away from being a top starter. I think it should happen next year, but heck, he’s 11 years younger than Rich Hill and has lots of time to learn to dominate!

At a time when the Orioles cannot afford any losses at all, the Red Sox had an evening where they could do nothing wrong. They hit some balls hard for sure, but even the dinkers were in places where nothing could be done about it. Just another frustrating game in a frustrating season. It was the 10th time the Birds have been shut out in 2015.

Again the Orioles have fallen a game under .500.  They just can’t seem to get over the hump or the hill … or the Rich Hill.

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