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Devers makes Red Sox history with 31st homer 

Budding star sets club record for home runs by a third baseman
@IanMBrowne
September 22, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG -- For 41 seasons, Butch Hobson held a little-known record in Red Sox history. All of 22 years old, Rafael Devers broke it on Saturday night at Tropicana Field when he smashed his 31st homer of the season, the most ever by a Boston third baseman. • Box

ST. PETERSBURG -- For 41 seasons, Butch Hobson held a little-known record in Red Sox history.

All of 22 years old, Rafael Devers broke it on Saturday night at Tropicana Field when he smashed his 31st homer of the season, the most ever by a Boston third baseman.

Box score

The game-tying shot in the eighth inning put the Red Sox in good position in a game they ultimately lost, 5-4, to the Rays in 11 innings.

In the same number of innings and by the same score, the Sox were defeated for the second straight night by a team that is fighting for its playoff life every night.

There will be no parade -- or playoffs -- for Boston this season.

But there have been individual developments to make the team proud, none bigger than the breakout of Devers.

“It’s fun,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “Like I’ve been saying all along, he did an outstanding job in the offseason to get in shape, to be ready for the grind, and he didn’t prove us wrong. I remember early in the season when the on-base percentage was up but he wasn’t driving the ball. A lot of people were doubting him, and he stayed with the process and controlled the strike zone. We’re very proud of him.”

As of May 8, Devers had hit just one homer. From then on, the left-handed hitter has been a wrecking machine, belting 30 homers in 480 at-bats.

And that led him to a record on Saturday night that he didn’t know about until apprised of it after the game.

“This is actually the first time I’m hearing of this, so it’s pretty cool, but obviously it’s a record that I broke now but there’s more records I want to try to continue to break,” Devers said. “It’s just about trying to stay healthy and moving forward, trying to work as much as I can.”

Devers got a kick out of hearing it was Hobson’s record that he broke because the two of them had a chat a few months back.

“Yeah, I actually had a conversation with him at [Red Sox Winter Weekend in January],” Devers said. “And Bogey [Xander Bogaerts] was the one that told me he was a really good third baseman."

Hobson, who went on to manage the Red Sox from 1992-94, had a decent career, with 98 homers.

But Devers looks primed to be one of the most impactful hitters in the game for the next several years. He leads the American League with 85 extra-base hits and 340 total bases.

Over the final week of the season, Devers could go back and forth with his close friend Bogaerts with some impressive stats.

Bogaerts has 51 doubles, one more than Devers. Bogaerts has 32 homers, also one more than Devers.

Devers claims the two of them aren’t having a friendly competition, but that’s hard to believe.

“We’re just trying to help the team win, whether it’s Xander, myself, Mookie [Betts], J.D. [Martinez], we’re just trying to do whatever it takes to help the team win ballgames,” Devers said.

The wins -- the Red Sox have 80, with eight games left in their season -- haven’t come nearly often enough.

But the hits have come in bunches from the big bat of Devers, who hopes to be performing his heroics in the middle of a pennant race at this time next year.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.