NEW YORK — Rich Hill would like to have pitched more on Monday, as he does in all of his starts.
But the Rays were pleased with the five shutout innings he gave them in a 3-1 win over the Yankees, the latest outing in what has been a dazzling run by the 41-year-lefty. Over his last seven starts, he is 3-2 with a 1.11 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 40-2/3 innings.
“Another day, another dollar, another great start from Rich Hill,” Rays centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier said. “He’s incredible. I don’t know how he does it. I do know he works his butt off. He cares a ton. And you don’t have 14-15 years in the big leagues by surprise.
“Love having him on our team. Love when he takes that mound. Each and every start, we all get excited for it. And he put on a show for us (Monday). Just fun to watch.”
Hill insists he isn’t doing anything vastly different, just benefiting from the opportunity the Rays are giving him, being healthy and sticking to his routine.
“I think that’s been proven over my career,” Hill said. “That’s what I say, keep working and continue to put in the time and the effort, and good things happen.”
Hill wasn’t all that pleased with his outing against the Yankees, despite shutting them out for five innings. He allowed only three singles and two walks and needed only 56 pitches to do so.
“I thought the ball came out of my hand probably 60 percent of the time, or 65 percent of the time, the way I wanted to,” he said. “There were just a couple mechanical things that we’re dealing with, kind of opening up. So trying to get that back in line as far as staying closed and finishing the way that I want to.”
But the bottom line was that he didn’t allow any runs, the fourth scoreless start in his last seven, with one or two runs in the others.
What’s worked so well?
Several people have noted the exceptional carry Hill is getting on his fastball, which allows it, due to its spin, to stay on a higher plane as it crosses the plate.
Manager Kevin Cash said there have been a few other adjustments, but the biggest thing is Hill’s ability to get outs when he needs to.
“Limiting runs, a lot,” Cash said. “He’s feeling really good on the mound right now. Pitchers go through stretches where everything lines up for them. All the pitches are working and are kind of at the top of his game. Right now, he’s featuring his best weapons of the season so far, and he’s been able to string it together.
“... He’s felt so good that he’s been able to alter the delivery at times. He’s been able to alter the arm slot at times. And he just gives different look after different look. That’s allowing him to get deeper in ballgames where, generally you have one delivery and that’s what they see. But the more that he’s kind of adding the timing and throwing hitters off with his sequences and how quickly he’s moving to the plate and then dropping his arm slot, it’s almost like featuring at times a different pitcher.”
Top starter Tyler Glasnow said he also has been impressed.
“He’s amazing,” Glasnow said. “He just spins it so well. He’s such a competitor. He works super hard, I don’t see why he couldn’t play a lot longer. If you told me he was 28 and I was just looking at pure stuff, I’d totally believe you.”
At any age, it’s been impressive to watch.
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