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‘Symbolism’ as Red Sox’s Rich Hill starts vs. Twins on Patriots’ Day

Sportsnaut
Apr 12, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA;  Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Rich Hill (44) pitches in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Red Sox will conclude their home-opening, four-game series against the Minnesota Twins with a Monday morning game on the Patriots’ Day holiday in Massachusetts.

Boston’s traditional holiday game at Fenway Park will coincide with the running of the Boston Marathon for the first time since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Milton, Mass., native Rich Hill (0-0, 6.23 ERA), a left-hander, will start on Patriots’ Day for the first time. It will be a significant day for Hill, whose father — Lloyd Hill Sr., who ran the race 37 times — passed away on Friday at the age of 94.

“It’s going to be a great day,” Hill told the Eagle-Tribune. “A lot of symbolism that day for him.”

Hill began his third stint as a member of his hometown team with a Tuesday start in Detroit. He allowed three runs on five hits and struck out four over the first 4 1/3 innings of a 5-3 win over the Tigers.

Monday will mark Hill’s first start against the Twins in his 18-year major-league career. He has pitched 5 2/3 innings in eight relief outings, posting an 0-1 record and a 9.53 ERA.

Garrett Whitlock pitched four hitless innings to win Hill’s first start before tossing the final 2 1/3 innings and striking out five in Saturday’s 4-0 win over Minnesota, clinching Tanner Houck’s victory and Boston’s first shutout of the year.

“To see (Whitlock) go out there whenever he does, and do what he does every single time, it’s truly incredible,” Houck said.

With Sunday’s 8-1 win over Minnesota, the Red Sox climbed above .500 for the first time this season.

Boston has 30 runs in its last five games, winning four of them.

“It wasn’t great (offensively) at the beginning, but I do believe that was our best effort,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “It’s not like we were panicking or swinging out. We executed our plan. Little by little, we did what we did,” scoring six runs in the eighth inning.

Right-hander Dylan Bundy (1-0, 0.00 ERA), scheduled to start for the Twins on Monday, was outstanding in his debut last Monday against Seattle, allowing just one hit and striking out two over five shutout innings. Manager Rocco Baldelli called it a “masterful” start.

“He’s amazing,” infielder/outfielder Luis Arraez said following Bundy’s first start. ‘It’s kind of crazy, because he throws too hard. I don’t want to face him.”

Bundy hasn’t been as successful when facing Boston, as his career record in 20 games (15 starts) is 3-9 with a 5.58 ERA.

Bundy pitched eight shutout innings against the Red Sox on June 11, 2018, but he has allowed seven earned runs in two of his four starts since.

The Twins have been held to one run or no runs in back-to-back games for the first time since last Aug. 31 and Sept. 1.

“(Bailey Ober) kept us in the game,” Baldelli said of his Sunday starter, who allowed just four hits and two unearned runs in six innings. “He didn’t get discouraged and continued to pitch real well no matter what happened. … You have to keep your head up and find ways to keep it closer than we did (at the end).”

First baseman Miguel Sano has reached base in each of his past 13 starts against Boston after walking twice on Sunday.

–Field Level Media