Rich Hill gets emotional
Few are going to remember what this year's Red Sox team's win total ended up. The season will be defined by one thing: Finishing in last place, along with the possible swan song of more than a few notable names and faces.
The Red Sox beat the Rays, 4-3 in the opener of their final series of the season. Great. Again, not the story.
What will be remembered about this frigid night at Fenway Park is one thing: Rich Hill.
It wasn't all that different than seven years earlier, when Hill spun an out-of-nowhere complete game two-hitter in the third of what would be four career-changing September starts. The local kid was the be-all, end-all that seemingly innocuous night. Same thing this time around.
Hill pitched six innings, giving up three runs (1 earned) while striking out six and walking one. In his last five starts he totaled a 2.36 ERA, fanning 30 while issuing only six free passes. At 42 years old, he once again showed Major League Baseball what's what.
He deserved the most recent punctuation. Why? Because of path it took to get there.
Hill's story has been well-documented, fighting through the depth of despair - both on and off the field - to land back with his hometown team. And then having to navigate the uneven 2022 Red Sox season while coping with the loss of his father and a month away due to injury.
And now he wants the story to continue. That was evident thanks to both his performance and postgame emotion.
"Yeah. It’d be nice," Hill said when asked about the possibility of a return to the Red Sox. "It’d be nice to come back. It would be great. It'd be great to come back and obviously compete for a championship. That's something that has been shown here for the last two decades. Certainly, you've seen the previous decades, growing up here and seeing the struggles that the regimes have gone through or the organization has gone through. To see the success that the organization has had and know that this is a winning organization and I know that they're going to do everything this offseason to provide that for next year."
This is the lot in life for almost every single player in the Red Sox' clubhouse, having to focus more on the future than the present. Hill is no exception.
The pitcher wasn't as defiant that last start in 2015, standing in front of his locker at Yankee Stadium and proclaiming he could get get the better of any team in any division. He wasn't wrong. But as Hill talked following his most recent last start of the season, his message was just as strong.
Hill has earned the right to add to his story, even if it means shedding a few tears along the way. Monday night painted that picture perfectly.