After Rafael Devers finally produced a perfect first half on his way to becoming an All-Star, Red Sox manager Alex Cora was enthused about the kind of damage his third baseman could do when he made it to his usual position. On strong added in the second half.
“Let’s see where this takes him,” Cora said earlier this month, hoping the Devers keep warm.
If this week is any indication, Davers is only heating up.
After Eduardo Rodriguez was dismissed in the second innings on a night that didn’t look promising early on, Devers again came to the Red Sox’s defense. Boston’s bat eventually broke against Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, and Devers provided the dagger—two huge home runs—including his 100th career blast, that propelled the Red Sox to a 6-2 win over their rivals on an electric pushed off. Fenway Park.
After Rodriguez left the game, Cora cobbled together a bullpen effort that nearly blanked the Yankees in the final eight innings as the Red Sox (60–38) became the first American League team to reach 60 wins this season. Went. He improved to 9-2 this season over the Yankees, who are now nine games behind them in the division.
“It was a total team effort from top to bottom,” Cora said.
It didn’t come easy.
After surrendering an RBI double to Brett Gardner, which gave New York an early 1-0 lead, Rodriguez bowed out and needed to be pulled out. The Red Sox lefty was later diagnosed with migraine symptoms. Either way, it made his long act against Cole even more difficult.
But the Red Sox, as they have often done this season, proved resilient again. Devers was at the center of it.
There was a time when Devers couldn’t hit the fastball this season, when opposing teams did nothing but throw a heater at them. But that time seems to have passed. The Red Sox eventually found Cole in fifth, when Kike Hernandez singled, Jaren Duran doubled, and Hernandez scored on the sacrificial fly. This brought in Devers, who ignored an offer of 99 mph from Cole, sending it to the front line of the Green Monster for a two-run homer.
“He kept throwing fastballs, curveballs, fastballs, curveballs,” said Devers, who took Cole deep on a fastball earlier this season. “I didn’t get it my second at bat, but I was able to get it later. It’s just making the adjustments I need and luckily I was able to take advantage of that.”
It was ultimately all the Red Sox needed as their bullpen closed the Yankees, but Devers was not finished. The Red Sox chased Cole after five innings, and the third baseman took full advantage with his second homer of the night, scoring a three-run shot straight into center field from Nestor Cortés for his second multiple-homer game of the season.
With his fourth home run of the week, the 24-year-old Devers joined Ted Williams and Tony Conigliaro to become the third Red Sox player to hit 100 career homers with the franchise before turning 25.
“He’s one of our best players,” Cora said. “Depending on the night, we have different guys who go up and do their job. He’s one of the best third basemen in the big leagues and he’s only 24. He’s still hard at work to get better.” Working hard, not only offensively but defensively.”
Other facts about Friday’s win:
– Philips Valdez produced clutch performance out of the bullpen. The right-hander had not pitched in the big leagues since early June, but after Hirokazu Sawamura was placed on the injured list, the Red Sox called him from Worcester. And with Rodriguez suddenly out, Cora needed Valdez in an emergency, and with Yankees runners in second and third in a perfect spot with no outs.
But Valdez came through, seeing DJ Lemahieu to end the threat – working around a one-off walk to work out the side. He dismissed seven Yankees in three shutout innings to lead a heroic and badly needed bullpen performance that came against one of the game’s best pitchers.
“We needed more of this,” Cora said of Valdez. “If you look at his outings throughout the season, it is very weak contact. When he’s in trouble, it’s with outings and all that, but as far as stuff and all that, it’s something we really like. …
“It happens that throughout the season, things happen, obviously. But he’s a big league pitcher and he was amazing.
– Jaren Duran getting off to a strong start for his career at Fenway Park. A night after scoring a game-tying run as a pinch runner in Thursday’s win, Duran made his first start in Boston on Friday and 2-for-3 with a double and walk. His ground-rule double in fifth in the right-center triangle from Cole is likely to go for a triple if he stays in the park. But it was still important as the Red Sox made a comeback.