‘It was like playing a video game:’ How Rich Hill and the Red Sox bullpen managed to hold a single run

“It was almost like playing a video game,” catcher Connor Wong said. “It was very fun.”

The Sox (69-72) took two of the Orioles’ three. They are absent on Monday and then host the Yankees on Tuesday with Nick Pivetta facing Gerrit Cole.

The Orioles lost six of eight games to reduce their playoff chances.

Hill (7-6) had one of his best starts of the season. He allowed two hits in five innings with three walks and seven strikeouts.

After allowing five runs on nine hits at Tampa Bay on Tuesday, Hill was called up.

“We stuck with a cutter/fastball mix and sprinkled in curveballs,” Hill said. “Connor did a great job today. Having the cutter was really helpful.

The southpaw worked on two jams. Ryan McKenna walked two out in the third inning before Anthony Santander hit a single.

Hill sent a curveball to Ryan Mountcastle which produced a fly ball into left field.

In the fifth inning, Rougned Odor was hit by a pitch before Robinson Chirinos walked. With the order summit coming up, the crowd of 16,030 perked up.

McKenna fouled a bunt attempt. Hill then took out Santander swinging on a 90 mph fastball and Mountcastle waving a handgun slider at 68 mph.

“I tried to go under and bring it up a bit,” Hill said. “Anytime you can switch gears, throw fast, throw slow, hesitate and get the ball out of your hand the way you want, that’s a good day.”

Hill revealed after the game that he hoped to play for Team USA at the World Baseball Classic in March next spring.

“I believe he can throw until he wants to,” Sox manager Alex Cora said.

Cora spoke to USA manager Mark DeRosa and strongly supported Hill.

“He can open; he can take out lefties; he can give you five solid runs,” Cora said. “I think it would be great for Rich to play in this tournament.”

After a scoreless sixth inning by John Schreiber, Matt Strahm had the seventh. His third pitch hit Odor, who slammed his bat into the ground and looked at Strahm.

A refusal moved Odor to second place. He then stole the third with two outs. With Odor dancing down the line, Strahm knocked out Santander.

Garrett Whitlock, pitcher for the first time since Sept. 3, worked around a two-out walk to keep the Orioles in check.

Matt Barnes had the ninth inning. He retired the team for his fifth stoppage.

Since leaving the injured list on Aug. 4, Barnes has allowed four runs in 14 2/3 innings and struck out 15. He converted three of four save chances.

“He had a great fastball,” Cora said. “The fastball is important to him. That’s what he did at the start of the season last year, he hit the strike zone with that fastball. It is good.

“When he can locate that, he puts everything in place.”

As for the offense, there was not much.

Tommy Pham started the game with a single to right field. He stole second, moved to third when Alex Verdugo pulled out and scored on a sacrifice fly to center field by Xander Bogaerts, who arrived at the stadium wearing a Mac Jones jersey.

At least Bogaerts had a productive day.

The Sox didn’t get another hit from Orioles starter Kyle Bradish until the seventh inning when Rafael Devers scored just one out. Trevor Story then got into a double game.

Bradish (3-6) walked twice and struck out three.

Verdugo and Bogaerts had singles against Dillon Tate in the ninth inning. With the Sox in position to widen their lead, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde went to southpaw Cionel Pérez.

He hit Devers swinging on a fastball after falling behind 3 and 0. Christian Arroyo walked to charge the goals for JD Martinez. He appeared in left field.

It was the third 1-0 win this season for the Sox. The previous two were in June against the Angels in Anaheim.


Peter Abraham can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.

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