When Boston Red Sox pitcher Rich Hill was in quarantine and on the COVID-19 list last week, he snuck out to a field and threw into a net.
The veteran left-hander returned to the mound Saturday against the Texas Rangers, pitching six-plus quality innings in an 11-3 victory.
Hill (1-1, 2.89 ERA) will look for another strong effort when he faces the visiting Seattle Mariners on Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series.
Hill allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits against the Rangers, with no walks and four strikeouts.
“It’s just that one-pitch-at-a-time approach,” Hill said. “You remove yourself from the results. That’s the biggest thing, and if we’re pitching for the moment and understanding each pitch is its own entity, its own moment, then we can look back at the end of day and be satisfied with the way the ball came out of your hand.”
The 42-year-old has baffled the Mariners throughout his 18-year career, going 4-0 with a 2.64 ERA in 13 appearances against them, including six starts.
Hill will be opposed by 24-year-old Seattle rookie George Kirby (0-0, 0.90 ERA), who will be making his third career start. The 2019 first-round pick has allowed three runs (one earned) on seven hits through his first 10 innings, with one walk and eight strikeouts.
After throwing six scoreless innings in his debut against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 8, Kirby wasn’t as strong Saturday against the host New York Mets, lasting just four innings.
Kirby, who grew up outside New York City in Westchester County, had to endure a one-hour rain delay before the start of the game and struggled to put away batters. He struck out just one.
“When I would get them 0-2 or 1-2, it was a real challenge to get them to swing and miss,” Kirby said. “I just felt like they were on everything, but it’s my job to execute better with two strikes.”
The Mariners and Red Sox both won 5-1 on Wednesday.
Boston’s Nick Pivetta threw a two-hit complete game and struck out eight against the visiting Houston Astros. Rafael Devers went 2-for-3 with a double and a triple for the Red Sox, and Xander Bogaerts hit a solo homer.
The Mariners topped the host Toronto Blue Jays as Marco Gonzales pitched six quality innings and Cal Raleigh, Ty France and Abraham Toro went deep.
While the Mariners sent struggling Jarred Kelenic back to Triple-A Tacoma last week, their other prized outfield prospect, Julio Rodriguez, has been improving.
After hitting .205 in April, Rodriguez has upped his average to .257. Though he has yet to show consistent power, socking only two home runs, he leads the majors with 11 stolen bases.
“I feel like the more you are around it and the more you see stuff, the more you adjust,” the 21-year-old said. “That’s something that I felt very comfortable with, kind of stepping out of my comfort zone and learning and seeing what they are actually going to try to do to me. I’ve been able to learn.”
The Mariners should get reliever Drew Steckenrider back from the restricted list Thursday after he missed the series in Toronto because of his vaccination status.
–Field Level Media