With comeback, Hill feels he's proven himself

Red Sox lefty delivers another solid effort in final start

With comeback, Hill feels he's proven himself

NEW YORK -- Rich Hill's solid comeback as a starter should position the veteran Red Sox lefty to get some opportunities heading into Spring Training.

Hill went six innings and allowed four hits and two runs while striking out six. He did his part to try to prevent the Yankees once again from clinching an American League Wild Card berth, but the Boston bats were quieted Thursday night in a 4-1 loss after taking the first three games in this four-game series.

Though Hill wasn't as dominant as last time out, when he fired a two-hit shutout and struck out 10, he did his job.

"He did a great job," said Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo. "He gave us six innings, two runs, he just continued where he left off last time. I think he had a little trouble getting into a rhythm. The [rainy, cool] weather may have been an issue for him. He definitely picked some things up after the third inning and just got into a real nice rhythm and made it look very easy."

Nobody could have predicted how successful the 35-year-old Hill would be starting Major League games for the first time in six years.

The numbers (1.55 ERA, 36 strikeouts in 29 innings, .141 opponents batting average) tell the story.

The four starts Hill made came against the four other teams in the AL East. Hill was able to command his fastball and deftly utilize his curveball and changeup.

"They went well. I threw the ball the way I knew I could throw it," said Hill. 'That's all I can say, really. I think if you look at the overall body of work, there was a lot to build off of from there. I'm looking forward to next year."

To get those starts, Hill first needed to prove himself with the Long Island Ducks of the independent league and Boston's Triple-A Pawtucket affiliate.

Hill, a free agent this winter, should get a chance to start for somebody next season.

Does Hill think he did enough to prove himself?

"One hundred percent," Hill said. "If anybody goes out there and looks at those four games, four quality starts, that speaks for itself."

Due to his Massachusetts roots and the fact Hill has already served multiple stints for the Red Sox, there are bound to be some discussions with Boston.

"A lot of that is out of my control," said Lovullo. "I know that we've had a lot of very positive discussions internally about Rich Hill. He's done everything and then some to put himself in a very good position."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.