Devers hits HRs No. 99, 100 to torment Yanks

July 24th, 2021

BOSTON -- At just 24 years old, has already established himself as a Major League clutch hitter.

In his five-year career, the third baseman has proved numerous times that he can come up big in important spots, and Friday night was no exception.

Recording his 99th and 100th career home runs, Devers powered Boston to a 6-2 victory over New York at Fenway Park. The comeback win marked a Major League-leading 31st for the Red Sox, whose lead over the Rays in the American League East standings remains one game.

“He’s one of the best third basemen in the big leagues and he’s only 24,” manager Alex Cora said. “And he’s still working hard to get better, not only offensively, but defensively.”

At the conclusion of the game, the AL All-Star led Major League third basemen in runs (66), home runs (26), RBIs (79), OPS (.939) and slugging percentage (.582).

With the Red Sox trailing, 1-0, going into the fifth inning, stepped up to the plate and delivered a game-tying sacrifice fly. Devers followed, putting one over the Monster to give Boston the lead. The two-run homer -- which scored in his first start at Fenway -- came on a 99.2 mph pitch from Yankees starter Gerrit Cole.

Since Statcast began tracking in 2015, Devers’ four home runs on pitches over 99 mph are the most in the Majors. The third baseman is also the first player in the pitch-tracking era (since 2008) to have at least three homers vs. 99-plus mph pitches in the same season.

Two innings later, Devers cushioned the lead with his 100th career homer, a three-run shot off Yankees reliever Nestor Cortes Jr. In doing so, Devers joined Ted Williams and Tony Conigliaro as the only players in Red Sox history to record their 100th homer before turning 25.

“I mean, it’s a true honor,” Devers said through team interpreter Bryan Almonte. “Obviously those are two legends of this organization and to be mentioned in the same sentence is really special. Obviously, it’s something I would have never thought of, but it feels really good to be in that list as well now.”

Devers ended his night 2-for-4 with five RBIs, bringing his average to .281. In his last seven games, Devers is batting .273/.448/.864 with four home runs and seven RBIs. The hot start to the second half is a welcome sign for Devers, whose numbers dipped after the All-Star break in both 2018 and ‘19.

Friday night marked the eighth multi-homer game of Devers’ career, and his second this season. Adding to his accolades, Devers became just the fourth Red Sox player to have eight or more multi-homer games before turning 25 (Jim Rice had 12, Mookie Betts 10, Williams 8).

Despite not making any noise on offense until the fifth, the Red Sox made it a difficult night for Cole, working long at-bats and running him up to 70 pitches in the first three frames. In the third inning, Duran put up a fight in a six-pitch at-bat that resulted in a walk. Bogaerts then struck out after six pitches, and Devers followed with an eight-pitch battle, eventually whiffing on a 100 mph fastball.

“Yeah, we’re out there being aggressive and giving good quality at-bats,” Devers said. “We have a lot of guys that have been taking bases on balls and also stealing bases and just getting on. Just doing everything that needs to be done, all the little things, all the fundamental things that we learn to be able to continue to have the success that we’re having.

“So that’s really what we’ve been able to do, and we’ve been a lot more patient at the plate and just trying to capitalize on every opportunity that we have against these really good pitchers that we’ve been facing lately.”