Devers' clutch HR a fitting end to Red Sox's stellar trip

June 13th, 2022

SEATTLE -- In order for the Red Sox to cap their best West Coast trip in 27 years with a win, Rafael Devers was required to do “Raffy things."

In other words, Devers needed to take a pitch out of the ballpark that perhaps nobody else in MLB could. The count on the Red Sox slugger was 0-2 when Mariners reliever Paul Sewald threw a 93.7 mph fastball that was high and well outside the strike zone.

Home run? Most players would be just trying to fight off such a pitch and keep the at-bat alive if they decided to swing at all. Who hits that pitch for an opposite-field two-run homer?

Probably Devers, and only Devers, whose 14th homer of the season broke a scoreless tie and led the Red Sox to a 2-0 victory on Sunday against the Mariners at T-Mobile Park.

Baseball Savant illustrates the pitch that Rafael Devers took deep for his two-run homer in the eighth on Sunday.

“I mean, he’s the only person I’ve ever seen do that,” Boston designated hitter J.D. Martinez said. “It’s unbelievable. We talk about it all the time. He can cover so many pitches where a normal person can’t. It’s funny because you’ll see him chase pitches and you’re like, ‘Oh, he’s chasing,' and in my mind, I’m like, 'He’s hit that pitch out [before]. I’ve seen him do it a million times.' It’s impressive.”

One of the top gifts Devers has is also his curse at times. He has the range to hit just about any pitch within his stratosphere and with authority. And that confidence sometimes leads to him striking out on a bad pitch.

But the Red Sox will take the trade off, knowing full well they have one of the most gifted hitters in the game.

“Unreal,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “You have to be perfect to hit a ball like that. He was for that swing. That’s why sometimes we talk about him being patient, controlling the zone. You cannot take away his aggressiveness. And he can do that with bad pitches. Two-strike approach, he went the other way. Us humans, we hit line drives the other way. He hits homers the other way with two strikes.”

On 0-2, this one was special, even for Devers. Of the 36 times Devers has ended an at-bat on an 0-2 pitch this season, this Sunday special in Seattle was his first homer. It was only the second homer for Devers in 274 career at-bats on an 0-2 pitch.

The one person in Boston’s clubhouse who didn’t seem awed by the accomplishment?

That would be Devers. In his mind, it’s just what he does.

“The pitch was closer than you think, and I was able to hit it out of the ballpark,” Devers said. “When I saw the pitch, I was trying to do my best to get on base and help the team. Luckily, the ball just went out.”

Doesn’t Devers realize how hard it is to hit a pitch like that out of the yard?

“Yeah, everything here in the Major Leagues is hard,” Devers said. “Just trying to make an adjustment pitch by pitch and trying to see the ball and hit the ball. Baseball is about momentum.”

The Red Sox have gained a lot of momentum of late, and Devers allowed them to spend all of Sunday night and into Monday morning with a happy flight home.

It was the end of an 8-2 road trip, marking the first time Boston has won eight or more games on one trip since 2017, and the first time it has done so on an all-West trip since Kevin Kennedy’s 1995 Red Sox pulled off that feat.

The Red Sox, who got off to a 10-19 start, are an MLB-best 18-7 since May 18. They’ve won nine of 11.

On a day Kutter Crawford (five strong innings for the win) was called up to fill in for Garrett Whitlock, Boston’s pitching staff gave up only one hit in a shutout victory.

Of course, the Sox had only four hits themselves. But the one by Devers swung the day.

It was too bad for the Mariners that they hit Rob Refsnyder with two outs and nobody on base, giving Devers that chance to be the hero.

“It’s unbelievable what he did,” Refsnyder said. “Fastball outside, he takes it to left field with true spin. He’s one of the best hitters in all of baseball. He’s pretty special to watch.”

As Devers stood in a corner and spoke with the media, he enjoyed his soft-serve ice cream cone.

“Yeah, it feels great, even more after this kind of road trip,” Devers said. “I don’t think we come back here anymore this year, but I hope the [ice-cream] machine is still here next year.”

In truth, the machine is the third baseman who delivered yet another big hit for his Red Sox.