TORONTO -- Talk about returning with a bang. Rafael Devers returned from the disabled list on Wednesday and made a very direct contribution in helping his red-hot Red Sox roll to a 10-5 win over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.Playing in his first game since July 28, Devers quickly
TORONTO -- Talk about returning with a bang. Rafael Devers returned from the disabled list on Wednesday and made a very direct contribution in helping his red-hot Red Sox roll to a 10-5 win over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
Playing in his first game since July 28, Devers quickly made up for lost time.
In his first at-bat, Devers worked the count to seven pitches and belted a 3-2 sinker by Toronto starter Mike Hauschild off the wall in center for a double to spark a four-run rally in the top of the third.
Three innings later, Devers laced a two-run homer to right.
Devers crushed the home run at an exit velocity of 109.2 mph and a projected distance of 425 feet according to Statcast™.
"It felt good," he said. "I gave it 100 percent on every play today and nothing bothered me. Just happy to be back and contributing and helping the team."
His team is 81-34 and leading the American League East by nine games.
Now that he's back, Devers hopes he can crank up his game a notch for the rest of the season.
The 21-year-old entered the night with an MLB-leading 20 errors and has also been inconsistent at the plate.
"I can't say that it's been good," Devers said when asked about his season. "I know that there's more in there, and that I can give more, but that's baseball. You can't predict the ups and the downs. Sometimes you're good. Sometimes you're not so good. But I'm just glad to be back, and I know that I can give more than I have."
Pitchers have adjusted to Devers in his first full season, and he's doing his best to adjust back. Perhaps he's at the point where it's going to start clicking.
"I'm ready to give 100 percent to this team. We have a goal, and that's to win a World Series," Devers said. "I'm just going to keep working hard and putting up numbers, even though it's not really so much about the numbers to at the end of the season look back and say it was a good year."
To make room for Devers on the roster, the Red Sox optioned infielder Tony Renda to Triple-A Pawtucket.
Without question, Devers brings a youthful element to these Red Sox.
"He brings fun," Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts said. "He's a young kid who's laughing, and you just enjoy being around him. Any time you have somebody young like that, laughing and enjoying it, it kind of helps you sit back and enjoy it, too."
By and large, Boston manager Alex Cora is satisfied with what Devers has provided to the team so far this season.
Devers is slashing .248/.299/.437 with 16 homers and 54 RBIs.
"It's been a good one," Cora said. "He's 21. He's had his ups and downs; obviously everybody focuses on the errors. He's a guy who is very rangy at third base. He's made some mistakes, but at the same time, he's been learning.
"Offensively, he's been up and down. I do feel that before he went on the DL this time, he was getting there, as far as getting on top of the ball and driving the ball. It's not easy to play at this level. Imagine playing at 21 years old for a championship-caliber team. We trust the guy, we let him play and he's been good for us."
And everyone would agree it was good to have him back on Wednesday.
Leon standing out
A day later, Cora was still raving about the play catcher Sandy Leon made in the sixth inning on Tuesday. With the bases loaded and one out, Luke Maile hit a slow hopper down the third-base line. Before the ball could go foul, Leon pounced on it, and chased down Kendrys Morales, who was running from third to home, for the out.
"That's the best play of the season," Cora said. "I mean, that's the play of the year. That was amazing."
In Spring Training, the Red Sox gave Christian Vazquez a contract extension, giving the impression that he would be the team's catcher of the future. Early in the season, Leon rarely played. He eventually earned more time and has been the primary catcher since Vazquez fractured his right pinkie finger on July 7.
"I keep mentioning proud, but that's a situation [earlier in the season] where probably other guys put their head down and say, 'Forget it. Whatever. Let me go about my business and whenever they want me to catch, I'll catch.' But [Leon] didn't do that," Cora said. "He was helping Christian. He was helping others. Raffy. Xander [Bogaerts]. All those guys. ... He's a guy who brings wisdom. He's a quiet leader."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.