Rich Hill gives up pair of 2-run home runs as Red Sox drop series finale to Twins, 8-3, on Patriots’ Day

The Red Sox fell behind early and could never recover in an 8-3 loss to the Twins at Fenway Park on Marathon Monday. By dropping the finale, Boston split its four-game series with Minnesota and are now 5-5 on the young season.

Rich Hill, making his second start of the year for the Sox, could not go deeper than five innings once again. Pitching for the first time since his father, Lloyd, passed away last week, the veteran left-hander allowed four earned runs on six hits and two walks to go along with two strikeouts over just 4 2/3 innings of work.

All four runs Hill surrendered on Monday came by way of the long ball. Kyle Garlick got the Twins on the board first by crushing a two-run home run off Hill that was reviewed and upheld with two outs in the first inning.

Two innings later, Hill yielded a leadoff single to Gilberto Celestino that was immediately followed by a two-run blast off the bat of Jorge Polanco to give the Twins a 4-0 advantage.

Hill settled in a bit and retired seven of eight at one point, but his day came to a close after giving up a two-out single to Gio Urshela in the top of the fifth. Finishing with a final pitch count of 80 (55 strikes), the 42-year-old southpaw threw 39 curveballs and 33 four-seam fastballs on Monday. He induced all four of his swings-and-misses with the former and averaged 87.4 mph with the latter.

In relief of Hill, Phillips Valdez received the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen from manager Alex Cora. Valdez stranded the lone runner he inherited in the top of the fifth before the Boston lineup finally got something going on their end in the bottom half.

Held in check by Twins starter Dylan Bundy to that point in the contest, Alex Verdugo led things off by drilling a line-drive double to left field and advancing to third base on a Christian Arroyo single. Arroyo tagged up to second before Verdugo scored from third on an RBI groundout off the bat of Christian Vazquez.

Valdez picked up where he left off in the sixth by retiring the side in order. The Sox then threatened in the bottom of the frame, as Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts both reached base to put runners at second and third with only one out.

Following a Minnesota pitching change that saw Joe Smith take over for Dylan Bundy, Devers was tagged out between third and home after J.D. Martinez reached first on a fielder’s choice. The Twins then elected to intentionally walk Verdugo to load the bases for Arroyo, who flew out to center field to extinguish the threat.

Kutter Crawford came on for Valdez in the seventh inning and worked his way around a walk and base hit. Vazquez greeted new Twins reliever Jhoan Duran in the latter half by mashing a 390-foot solo shot over the Green Monster.

Vazquez’s first home run of the season trimmed Boston’s deficit down to two runs at 4-2. Things got away from the Sox in the eighth, though, as Crawford struggled with his command, allowed a run to score on a wild pitch, and walked the bases loaded with two outs.

Polanco broke this one open with a two-run single to right field before Crawford got the hook in favor of Hirokazu Sawamura, who spiked a wild pitch of his own that gave the Twins an 8-2 lead.

By the time the final out of the eighth was recorded, Minnesota had already pushed across four runs. Crawford, meanwhile, walked four batters in the eighth and five altogether over 1 2/3 innings pitched on Monday.

Down to their final three outs in the ninth, Vazquez scored on Bogaerts’ third hit of the game: an RBI single off Griffin Jax. It was too little, too late for the Sox, though, as they fell to the Twins by a final score of 8-3.

Some notes from this Patriots’ Day loss:

The Red Sox went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position on Monday and left 10 runners on base as a team.

Xander Bogaerts, Alex Verdugo, and Jackie Bradley Jr. combined for seven of Boston’s 11 hits.

Phillips Valdez has yet to allow a run through his first four appearances and five innings pitched this season.

Next up: Bring on the Blue Jays

The Red Sox will welcome the Blue Jays into town for the first time this season on Tuesday night. In the first of a three-game series between the division rivals, it will be right-hander Nathan Eovaldi getting the ball for Boston and fellow righty Yusei Kikuchi doing the same for Toronto.

First pitch from Fenway Park on Tuesday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of Rich Hill: Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Rich Hill will make start on Marathon Monday after his father, Lloyd, passed away last week

Red Sox left-hander Rich Hill lost his father, Lloyd Hill Sr., at the age of 94 on Friday.

Shortly before his father’s passing, Hill left the Red Sox while they were in Detroit this past Wednesday in order to spend more time with his family. Despite the loss, the 42-year-old will still make his next start as scheduled against the Twins at Fenway Park on Monday.

“He’s in a good place,” Cora said in regards to Hill on Sunday. “Obviously, you know, thoughts and prayers with his family. It’s tough, but he’s in a good place. He’s going to go out there and pitch. I know it means a lot to him, his family, and to us.”

It is quite fitting that Hill will be making his first home start of the season on Marathon Monday, as his late father ran in 37 Boston Marathons.

“I can’t describe how kind he was towards everybody and the way he treated everyone. But also running 37 Boston Marathons was an amazing feat,” Hill told WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche. “We just found that out the other day. I always thought it was in the 20s and then I asked him. And he said, ‘No, we started in 1958.'”

Lloyd Hill Sr., a native of Milton, Mass., was a captain and All-American tackle for the Brown University football team. He was a veteran of the Korean War who later coached and served as a high school principal in Quincy.

Rich Hill, who went 4 1/3 innings against the Tigers in his first start back with the Red Sox last Tuesday, will be thinking of his father when he takes the mound at Fenway on Monday morning.

“There’s going to be a lot of emotion tomorrow, but at the same time, there’s a job that has to be done,” Hill said to Roche. “I know that the task at hand is extremely important. And for my dad, that’s how he would appreciate and what he would want.”

(Picture of Rich Hill: Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

Red Sox unveil new Boston Marathon-inspired ‘Nike City Connect’ uniforms for Patriots’ Day weekend

The Red Sox have unveiled new, special edition uniforms to be worn on Patriots’ Day weekend this year, the team announced Tuesday.

In collaboration with Nike, Major League Baseball’s official uniform provider, the Sox are the first of seven teams this season to roll out their “Nike MLB City Connect Series uniforms.”

Rather than the traditional navy blue and red look, the Red Sox will be donning yellow jerseys with baby blue trim and stencil lettering in the middle two games of their four-game series against the White Sox on Patriots’ Day weekend later this month.

The new uniforms are a tribute of sorts to the Boston Marathon and the spirit it encapsulates in Boston and throughout New England.

“The City Connect uniform adopts colors that honor the spirit of Patriots’ Day weekend, and features ‘Boston’ in a stencil font across the chest paying tribute to the Boylston Street finish line,” the team said in a statement. “The numbers ‘617’ are highlighted on the left sleeve as a nod to the area code for Boston and Fenway Park. The numbers appear within a racing bib, honoring one of the city’s most iconic annual sports traditions.”

As previously mentioned, the Sox will wear these new City Connect uniforms against the White Sox on April 17 and April 18. They will still wear their traditional white “B Strong” jerseys on Patriots’ Day (Monday, April 19), as they have every year since 2013.

“We viewed the City Connect collaboration with Nike as an opportunity to celebrate the spirit of a weekend that is uniquely Boston,” Red Sox executive vice president and chief marketing officer Adam Grossman said. “The departure from our traditional style pays homage to that iconic weekend, and recognizes Boston’s boldness, culture and creativity.”

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and Alex Verdugo: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Nike)

Red Sox Release Schedule for 2021 Season

Less than three full days after releasing its 2020 schedule, Major League Baseball released 2021 schedules for all 30 major-league clubs on Thursday.

For the Red Sox, if all goes according to plan, they will open the season up against the Orioles for the second straight year at Fenway Park on April 1st, the first of three games over a four-day stretch. In other words, Opening Day next year is set for April 1st, and according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, all teams will begin their 2021 season on the same day for the first time since 1968.

Boston’s first road trip of the year will feature match-ups against the Orioles and Twins, while the club’s first interleague bout will take place later in April against the Mets in Queens.

Speaking of the Mets, the Red Sox’ interleague opponents will be the teams that comprise the National League East for the second consecutive year.

They play the Mets in New York in late April, the Phillies in Philadelphia and the Braves and Marlins at Fenway in late May, the Braves in Atlanta in June, the Phillies at Fenway right before the All-Star break in July, and the Nationals in the nation’s capital to close out the campaign in early October.

Other notable schedule highlights include:

A Patriots’ Day matchup against the White Sox on April 19th to close out a four-game set at home.

A four-game series against the Rangers at brand-new Globe Life Field in Arlington in late April/early May.

10 straight games against the Astros and Yankees beginning on May 31st (Memorial Day) and ending the evening of June 10th.

Yankees’ first trip to Fenway Park comes in late June.

An Independence Day match-up against the Athletics in Oakland, part of a six-game west coast road trip against the A’s and Angels.

18 straight games without a day off against divisional opponents coming out of the All-Star break and going into August.

Last two home series of the season come against New York teams, followed by a six-game Beltway road trip with stops in Baltimore and D.C. to close out the season, as previously mentioned.

All in all, the Sox will be aiming to play 162 games in 186 days beginning next April. Of course, there’s still a 2020 season to worry about first. You can read about that schedule here.

RECAP: #RedSox improve to 70-52 on Patriots Day; defeat Rays 4-3.

On Monday, the Red Sox took the field at a very unique time, 11 A.M in the morning. For the past 58 years, the Red Sox have had a home game on Patriots Day. It’s a very special day in Boston because of one of its biggest sporting events, The Boston Marathon. Marathon Monday and Red Sox baseball in the morning go together amazingly here in New England. I’d say its one of the best traditions in all of the United States.

The reeling knuckleballer Steven Wright got the start for today’s game, and he got off to  quite simply a terrible start. Three straight hits to start the game led to the Tampa Bay Rays scoring twice in the first, with runs being drove in by Brad Miller and Steven Souza Jr. Wright would settle in after the first however, as he pitched five scoreless innings and got taken out of the game after giving up a leadoff single in the top of the seventh. The final line for Wright looks like this: 6+ IP, 9 hits, 3 runs (1 earned), one walk, and four strikeouts. Overall, not a terrible performance from Wright, it was more of a bounce back from his previous two starts. The outing could have gone much worse and Wright will look to build on this performance when he takes the mound against the Orioles.

The Red Sox offense scored all their runs in the first and second innings. Hanley Ramirez drove in the first run, scoring Dustin Pedroia on his single. In the second inning, Andrew Benintendi drove in Marco Hernandez on an RBI single and Mookie Betts drove in Dustin Pedroia with another RBI single. Rays starter Blake Snell deserves some credit for settling down after the second, and so does the Rays bullpen for throwing another three shutout innings. Back to the offense, Andre Benintendi and Mookie Betts both had another multi-hit game, with Benintendi collecting three and Betts collecting two. 9 RBIs in 13 games is nothing to scoff at when it comes to Benintendi, especially with the absence of home runs (his only home run came on Opening Day). Mookie Betts is Mookie Betts. I expect the power to come as the season progresses, but it’s a good start for Mookie with a BA of .325 and an OPS of .800.

Last thing about the game I want to mention is Craig Kimbrel’s save streak. I really think expectations are set too high for Kimbrel because of guys like Andrew Miller and Kenley Jansen. Kimbrel isn’t a “super-reliever” like those guys, he’s a flamethrower, plain and simple. Sometimes I think Kimbrel doesn’t even know where some of his fastballs are going, he just whips them. Sure it can be nerve-wracking when he’s out on the mound.but converting 25 straight save opportunities going back to last season.

Also, I was at this game, my first Red Sox game on Patriots Day. Let me tell you, morning baseball is awesome. The fact that you could buy a hot dog and a beer at 9 A.M embodies the American spirit. Being able to watch some of the Marathon runners go through Kenmore Square after the game was pretty cool as well.

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8 down, 86 to go.