It turns out Rafael Devers has a bit of El Mago in him, because the sleight of hand trick he pulled off at third base on Monday afternoon was a true act of wizardry.
On a sixth-inning double to left field by Xander Bogaerts, Devers tried to take third, but Twins left fielder Trevor Larnach got a fortuitous bounce off the Green Monster and fired a throw to the bag. All signs pointed towards Devers being a sitting duck; the ball reached Gio Urshela just as Devers began his tumbling slide right around the third-base cutout. No chance he makes it, right? Wrong.
OK, maybe this belly-flop slide did not quite have the grace of the many magic acts we have seen from Javier Báez, but what came next was mind-blowing. Urshela missed the first attempt at a tag as Devers swung around him with his momentum taking him past the base. Attempt No. 2 by Urshela was unsuccessful, too, as Devers was able to pull his hand away then reach over the third baseman's outstretched arm to touch the bag.
“Unreal. I don’t know how he was safe to be honest with you," manager Alex Cora said after Boston's 8-3 loss. "I want to see it again because it looked very like 'The Matrix,' the movie. I didn’t know he was able to move that way.”
The umpire, standing right over the base, had a perfect view to call Devers safe, but the Twins didn't seem to believe what they'd just seen (can you blame them?) and challenged the call. It was confirmed upon review, and the replay allowed everyone to see just how incredible Devers' trickery really was. When asked after the dust had settled if he had been trying to do the swim move-slide popularized by Báez, Devers gave a classic response.
“I know how to swim, but I was just trying to get safely to the base," he said.
Unfortunately Devers got a little overzealous on the next play of the game, trying to take home on a grounder to first base with the infield in. He got caught in a pickle and made one last-ditch attempt to avoid a tag at the plate but was unsuccessful. Can't win 'em all!