Devers puts Sox on his shoulders with 2 more HRs in Bronx

July 8th, 2024

NEW YORK -- Through six innings, Sunday Night Baseball at Yankee Stadium felt like a silent movie as Boston’s Kutter Crawford and New York’s Luis Gil traded zeroes at a strikingly crisp pace.

But in the seventh, frequent Yankees nemesis made some noise, roping a solo homer to the opposite field on a 98.8 mph heater by Gil to break the scoreless tie and help his team to a 3-0 victory in the rubber match of a three-game series between the rivals.

If that wasn’t enough, Devers used astounding plate coverage on a pitch that was nowhere near the strike zone and drilled a solo shot to center in the ninth to give his team some insurance.

Make no mistake about it: Sunday night belonged to Devers, who was named an All-Star for the third time in his career prior to the game.

“He loves the spotlight and he’s very quiet about it,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “But you could feel it [from Devers] in the dugout from the get-go. It seems like the stadium was quiet today compared to the last two days, and he kept going, ‘Let’s go guys, we’ve got to keep going. We’ve got to push.’ And then at the end, he just put us on his shoulders and carried us to the ‘W.’”

While the latest Bronx bombs from Devers didn’t exactly resemble his memorable blast off a 102.8 mph heater by Aroldis Chapman in 2017, it was the continuation of a trend the Yankees are all too familiar with.

Devers has 16 homers in 57 career games in the Bronx -- the most of any visitor in MLB since the start of the 2017 season.

As far as Devers is concerned, what’s not to love about playing at Yankee Stadium?

“We know the type of ballpark this is,” Devers said. “This is one of the best in the league. Everything feels better than at any other ballpark, so it’s very nice to hit here.”

The only Red Sox players who have hit more homers than Devers on the road against the Yankees? Ted Williams and David Ortiz (30 each), Carl Yastrzemski (24), Jim Rice (22) and Manny Ramirez (18).

The 28 homers by Devers against the Yankees are his most against any opponent.

While Devers will always be known most for his big bat, he made a slick play on defense in this one to make his offensive heroics stand up. DJ LeMahieu hit a slow roller with one on and two outs in the eighth, and Devers barehanded it and fired to first to get his team back in the dugout.

Devers batted second in the top of the ninth and, with one out, hit that ridiculous second homer off Michael Tonkin that had jaws dropping in the Boston dugout.

The pitch that Devers destroyed was far too high to be a strike, and also too outside to be a strike. Devers turned it around anyway and hammered it over the wall in center at a Statcast-projected distance of 423 feet.

“You just always want to be on the top step when he’s in the box because you never know what can happen,” Crawford said. “That last at-bat, that ball was in the other batter’s box and he was able to take it 420 to right-center. He’s really talented, and I’m glad he’s on our team.”

“The first [homer] was impressive,” said Cora. “The second one, I saw the replay and I don’t know how you can do that. That pitch is way off the plate and he barreled it.”

To Devers, that is just life in the batter’s box.

“I tried to make some adjustments within the at-bat, and the previous pitch [from Tonkin] was a fastball outside,” said Devers. “I know he doesn't like to pitch inside. I know the ball was a little bit off the plate, but I was able to make good contact with it.”

The heroics by Devers capped a 5-1 road trip for the Red Sox. With a week left before the All-Star break, Cora’s upstart team leads the Royals by 1 1/2 games in the battle for the third American League Wild Card spot.

“It was a good week for us. We didn’t get caught up in who we’re playing,” said Cora. “We just want to win series.”

Thanks in large part to Devers, that’s exactly what the Red Sox did on Sunday.