TORONTO -- With the bases loaded and one out and the Red Sox down by a run in the bottom of the fifth inning Monday night, third baseman Rafael Devers was about to concede a run and nobody would have blamed him.The grounder by Kevin Pillar was hit down the
TORONTO -- With the bases loaded and one out and the Red Sox down by a run in the bottom of the fifth inning Monday night, third baseman Rafael Devers was about to concede a run and nobody would have blamed him.
The grounder by Kevin Pillar was hit down the third-base line and Devers fielded it roughly 20 feet beyond the bag. His body was turned toward first, and Devers was about to fire across the diamond.
But the 20-year-old had the presence of mind to see Pillar was likely going to beat it out. So on the fly, Devers made a perfect throw home and nailed Josh Donaldson by maybe a half-step.
When the Red Sox came storming back to pull out a 6-5 victory, the play by Devers was looked at as one of the biggest moments in the ending of a four-game losing streak. The Red Sox are back up by 3 1/2 games over the Yankees in the American League East, as their top prospect continues to make key contributions in a pennant race.
"My mentality initially was to go to first, but when I saw he was already halfway down the line, I went home with it," said Devers. "Basically I was thinking if the ball was hit hard to me, I would go for the double play. In that situation, the only play I had was to go home with it."
It was still a tough play to make.
"Somehow he got the throw around the runner," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "It was a key play at a pivotal time in the game."
Winning pitcher Thomas Pomeranz followed that play by snaring a liner by Darwin Barney and the Red Sox somehow didn't allow a run in the inning.
"I didn't know what he was going to do with it," Pomeranz said of Devers. "I thought maybe he was going to throw it across or try to step on third, but he made a great play and [catcher Christian Vazquez] did a great job staying on the base there."
Vazquez had a big night, going 4-for-4 and smashing a two-run homer to put the Red Sox ahead. But his most challenging moment of the game was completing the play by Devers.
"Yeah, [Devers] was looking to first base and when he threw to home, I was trying to touch home plate," said Vazquez. "I forgot about where home plate was, but I touched it. It was crazy. It almost hit Donaldson. It was close."
One of the most impressive things about Devers in his first month in the Major Leagues is his ability to adapt on the fly.
"Last-second instincts kicked in," said Farrell. "Knowing that he can't turn a double play, and then I've got to believe, out of the corner of his eye he probably sees where Donaldson is in relation to home plate, and he threw a strike from about 115 feet. So, like I said, a key play at that time in the game."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.