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Devers' breakout year continues with HR, 4 RBIs

@IanMBrowne
July 18, 2019

BOSTON -- With all due respect to Dustin Pedroia, the original "Laser Show," the current master of making laser beams emanate from his bat is Rafael Devers. The 22-year-old keeps mashing the baseball in his exciting breakout season, and his latest knocks lifted the Red Sox to a 5-4 victory

BOSTON -- With all due respect to Dustin Pedroia, the original "Laser Show," the current master of making laser beams emanate from his bat is Rafael Devers.

The 22-year-old keeps mashing the baseball in his exciting breakout season, and his latest knocks lifted the Red Sox to a 5-4 victory over the Blue Jays on Wednesday night at Fenway Park.

Box score

With four more hard-hit batted balls (three of them run-scoring hits), Devers increased his MLB-leading total of batted balls with an exit velocity of 95 mph or more to to 153. Somehow, Devers didn't make the All-Star team this season, but he has performed like one.

"I'm just trying to have the right approach every at-bat, trying not to do too much and just continue playing my game and then get good at-bats in, which is contributing to the success that I've head on the field," said Devers through interpeter Bryan Almonte.

The only thing more enjoyable for Boston manager Alex Cora than writing the name "Devers" in his lineup card every day is watching him hit.

"Quality at-bat after quality at-bat. Hard contact," said Cora. "Making adjustments, getting to fastballs, offspeed pitches, going the other way, it's fun. He always has a smile and he enjoys coming to the ballpark and performing. It's always fun when you rake like that."

The fun started for the baby-faced third baseman on Wednesday in the bottom of the third when he smashed a 102.6-mph liner that just snuck over the Green Monster for a solo homer. The pitch Devers offered at was a changeup that was practically in the other batters' box, and he went with it perfectly for his 18th homer on the season -- and seventh to the opposite field.

In the fourth, Devers did it again by scorching a two-run double (112.3 mph off the bat) to the gap in right-center field.

Devers, as you might have guessed, wasn't done. In the eighth, with the Red Sox clinging to a one-run lead, Devers added some insurance with a searing 113-mph bullet to center for an RBI single.

Nobody enjoyed the show more than starter Eduardo Rodriguez, who rode his teammate's four-RBI night to victory No. 11 on the season.

"I mean, the approach he has when he goes to the plate is different [than before]," Rodriguez said. "He's hitting the pitch he has to hit. He's seeing the ball real good now. Last couple of years he was swinging at the ball off the plate and all that."

Looking back on it, it's somewhat humorous that there was disappointment in the inconsistency Devers had last season when he was all of 21 years old. Because this season, he has blossomed into a stud.

"Yesterday I was talking to J.D. [Martinez] and said, 'J.D., where were you when you were 22?' And he said, 'I was raking in A-ball.' He stuck with the process," said Cora. "He stuck with what [hitting coaches] Timmy [Hyers] and Andy [Barkett] were preaching as far as staying in the zone."

If it seems like Devers has been hot the entire season, he has really ramped it up over the last five weeks. In a span of 117 at-bats since June 11, he is slashing .393/.437/.735 with eight homers, 30 RBIs and 11 doubles.

The Blue Jays have seen about enough of Devers. In 14 games against Toronto, Devers is hitting .455 with seven homers, 25 RBIs and an outlandish OPS of 1.409. The 25 RBIs are the most any Boston player has had against Toronto in one season. And the squads still have four games left this season.

"He's probably going to become one of the best hitters in baseball," said Jays manager Charlie Montoyo. "He's 22 years old and he's hitting .320-something. I know he hits good against us, but he hits good against everybody else, too, because that's why he's hitting over .320. I wish I could say it's fun to watch, but he really is, because he's a good hitter and he's just a kid. He might be the batting champion one of these years, for sure. I'm making that call."

Losing pitcher Aaron Sanchez, who felt the brunt of the latest eruption by Devers, isn't going to be the one to argue.

"He's just on everything, really," said Sanchez. "He's having one of those years where anything you throw to the plate, he puts a good swing on it. He did it all night, hit the ball hard. Not just off me, but even later in the game. Hats off to him. I think everybody kind of knew what type of player he was. Last year he kind of struggled, but you saw the potential. Obviously he's putting it on display."

A Workman-like save

Three-out saves have too often been an adventure for the Red Sox this season. But Cora enlisted Brandon Workman for the final five outs of Wednesday's win, and the big righty got the job done.

Workman came on with a 4-3 lead and got the final two batters of the eighth, stranding two runners on base. After the insurance RBI by Devers, Workman gave one back in the ninth. But he hung with a 45-pitch save, with four of the outs coming on strikeouts.

The righty has a 1.84 ERA and has been a rare rock in a bullpen that has sprung too many holes.

"I didn't expect him to get five outs today," said Cora. "We were expecting [Josh Taylor] to do the job [in the eighth]. Then at the end, I told [pitching coach] Dana [LeVangie] at one point, 'It's him right here. It's either him or him.' He finished the job. Of course he'll be down tomorrow and we'll find a way to get those last three outs tomorrow. He's been outstanding the whole season."

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