July 6, 2022

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Hill honors late dad with Patriots' Day start

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BOSTON — It was fitting that Rich Hill was the pitcher on the mound for the one day of the season his team wore home jerseys that said “Boston” on the front instead of “Red Sox.”

For Patriots’ Day, a Massachusetts holiday that coincides with the Boston Marathon and an 11:10 a.m. ET baseball game at Fenway Park, the player taking the ball was born in Boston and has maintained primary residence in the surrounding area for his entire life.

For Hill, who gave up a pair of two-run homers in an 8-3 loss to the Twins, Monday’s start was personal for reasons beyond that.

His father — Lloyd Hill Sr. — who completed the Boston Marathon 37 times during his life, died on Friday at the age of 94.

It was a lot for the 42-year-old Rich to process as he made his first home start for the Red Sox since 2015. Services for Lloyd Hill Sr. will be held in the coming days.

“Yeah, it’s going to be a long week. It was a tough weekend,” said Hill. “But the job is to be a professional and show up. No matter what circumstances there are outside of the clubhouse, or outside of the lines, you show up and you’re a pro. That’s something that I learned from my dad.”

What a feel-good story it would have been for Hill to lead the Red Sox to a win on Patriots’ Day. But the Twins had other ideas, both with their bats and from the electric right arm of Dylan Bundy, who stifled Boston’s offense to the tune of five hits, one run and no walks while striking out six in 5 1/3 innings.

Hill wasn’t able to match that, scattering six hits and the homers by Kyle Garlick and Jorge Polanco over 4 2/3 innings and 80 pitches.

“I’ve got to throw the ball better, that’s all,” said Hill. “I know that this is a game of results, and that loss is on me. And we came up short because I didn’t set the tone right away, and that’s difficult because I want to go out there and do that as a starting pitcher. That’s my job. I want to go out there and put us in a better position to win next time, and that’s what I’m going to work on.”

Despite the loss, the Red Sox appreciated Hill’s competitiveness and empathized with all that he’s been going through.

“Of course, we feel sad for him,” said Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers. “He’s a really good competitor and he did a tremendous job out there today. We feel really proud of him and the way he pitched today.”

It was easy to see the emotion on Red Sox manager Alex Cora’s face when he went to take the ball from Hill in the fifth inning.

“I can’t even imagine the emotions and the feelings and everything,” said Cora. “Like I told him, we’re very proud of him. We’re family and we’re here for him, and for him to go out there and compete, that was good enough.

“He did a lot today. He showed his team a lot, too. He’s a guy we respected playing against and all these guys who played with him before. But having him in the clubhouse with us is a different story. We’re very proud of him, and my thoughts and prayers [are with] the Hill family. Obviously Lloyd lived a great life. For his son to go out there and compete the way he did, he should be very proud.”

As Hill exited Fenway Park after the game, Marathon runners were still jogging through the Kenmore Square area behind the ballpark. That had to bring back memories of his childhood and cheering on his dad.

“Well, I mean, he ran 37 of them,” Hill said pridefully. “There were a lot of great memories of him coming home if we couldn’t make it in for the Marathon. A few times being able to get in there and see him finish was great. He had a great life and taught me a lot of lessons, and one of them is to show up and do your job even when things aren’t perfect on the outside.”

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