Boston’s batters needed just a little extra time Sunday afternoon to show the crowd at Camden Yards that no one was hitting the ball better than they are.
Rafael Devers drove in three runs -- on a home run in the second inning and a bases-loaded two-run double in the sixth inning -- helping the Red Sox secure their 15th come-from-behind win this season, 4-3 over the Orioles. It was Boston’s fifth win in six games and third straight in the four-game series in Baltimore.
"The home run, that was eye-opening. I think that's the first breaking ball they throw, and he's all over it,” said manager Alex Cora, whose Red Sox own the best record in baseball. “It seems like that ball was like 5 feet off the ground, and it just kept carrying.”
Devers has established himself as a clutch hitter at the age of 24. Opposing teams have tried to rattle him in big moments, but Devers doesn’t let things affect his approach. If anything, he laughs at them.
Cora watched Devers play in the 2017 American League Division Series when Cora was the Astros’ bench coach and Devers was a 20-year-old rookie for Boston. The Astros tried to grab Devers’ attention by laughing at him, only for him to join them in the wisecracks.
In four games of the ALDS, Devers posted a .364 batting average with five RBIs in 11 at-bats, including an inside-the-park home run.
Devers has kept his flair in the batter’s box and on the field. He has done it with such ease that his skipper laughs at it, since he gets to enjoy the wins that come from it.
"He enjoys playing baseball,” Cora said. “He's just happy and he's like, 'Why be upset or mad? I'm playing baseball. I'm making a lot of money, and I hit homers.' So I can’t go against that. He's very relaxed, he loves it. He loves playing the game.”
The Red Sox’s offense has changed drastically in the past couple of weeks.
When the lineup slumps, whether in one game or over a stretch of games, it no longer needs to rely on its core hitters of Alex Verdugo, J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts and Devers. Now, Boston can call upon any of its hitters to change the outcome with one swing.
Hunter Renfroe was one of those hitters on Mother’s Day for Boston. He has trended upward since he batted .167 and hit one home run in April.
His solo homer in the eighth inning gave the Red Sox a 4-2 cushion, and it became the difference when Baltimore tacked on a run in the bottom half when Ryan Mountcastle doubled in Austin Hays.
In eight games this month, Renfroe has three homers and leads the Red Sox with nine RBIs.
"Forget the home run, I think the line drives the other way help him out. He looks like he's balanced now. He's not trying to do too much, and when he does that, he's in a good spot,” Cora said. “Actually, his swing reminds me a lot of what he did in Spring Training. I told him the other day, ‘Don't change a thing.’ He's putting the ball in play with two strikes, there's not too many swings and misses, and when he makes contact it’s loud contact.”