Home News Rafael Devers homers in Red Sox’s win over White Sox

Rafael Devers homers in Red Sox’s win over White Sox

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Rafael Devers homers in Red Sox’s win over White Sox

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4:56 AM UTC

CHICAGO — As quickly as Lucas Giolito turned around to watch the drive off Rafael Devers’ bat, the White Sox starter whipped back around, put his head down and strutted off the mound.

He didn’t need to give it a long look. 

Devers’ two-run homer off Giolito in the fourth inning Friday — which had a Statcast-projected 110.1 mph exit velocity — was a difference maker in the Red Sox’s 3-1, series-opening win over the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“It feels good,” Devers said through team interpreter Carlos Villoria. “It feels good to be able to help the team win.”

Devers entered the day with a .216/.337/.432 slash line through 20 games in June, with four homers and 11 RBIs. Two of those homers came over a week ago, on June 13 against the Rockies.

It’s been an interesting season for the 26-year-old. Devers entered Friday’s series opener in Chicago with 17 homers and tied for the MLB lead with 58 RBIs. But that was paired with a .238/.302/.480 slash line in 72 games, figures all significantly below his career averages.

“He’s hitting the ball harder than ever,” manager Alex Cora said. “He’s struggling against fastballs, but he’s hitting them hard. He’s struggling against breaking balls, but hitting them hard. We’ve just got to stay the course and he’ll be fine.”

Devers entered the day with a 52.8 percent hard-hit rate this season, which would be a new career high. That ranked in the 94th percentile in MLB; his average exit velocity (92.8 mph) ranked in the 93rd percentile. 

In his first plate appearance, he got under a 93.8 mph four-seam fastball from Giolito and popped out to shallow left field.

When he came up again in the fourth, Devers worked an eight-pitch at-bat, and five of the pitches were four-seamers. He watched a pair go out of the zone and fouled off three others, including the sixth and seventh pitches of the sequence.

Giolito’s eight pitch was a slider, hung over the heart of the plate, and Devers sent it a Statcast-projected 434 feet, halfway up the seats in right.

“It’s pretty frustrating,” Giolito said. “I think that if I made better pitches to Devers and didn’t give up a homer, then it would’ve been a different game, so I only have myself to blame for that. But overall, one, maybe two, three mistakes, I’ll take that, personally. But I want to win, so it is frustrating.”

The drive gave Devers sole possession of 16th place in Red Sox franchise history with 157 home runs, breaking a tie with Xander Bogaerts. 

He knew he got all of it; after making contact, he leaned back, took several steps with his bat in hand and then flipped it into the air.

“It was soft in the zone,” Cora said. “He’s got work to do, but that’s the beauty of Rafy. He can go 0-for-4 with four strikeouts, and then the next day, he has three strikeouts, and then he puts a good swing and that happens.”

Devers struck out in his final two trips to the plate Friday, but the home run was a good sign. Cora was encouraged that the pitch Devers hit over the fence was a slider.

The Red Sox’s offense needed that lift. It tallied just four hits while striking out 17 times.

Devers came up big with his glove, too, starting a double play in the fourth to squash a potential White Sox rally. After Eloy Jiménez led off the inning with a single, Andrew Vaughn hit a sharp grounder to Devers. He slid to his right and made a backhanded stop, spun to his left, got up and fired a strike to second base.

“Obviously in the past few days, I have been struggling,” Devers said. “But to be able to help the team win is great for us. Today it was me, but every time, every day, every other teammate will step up to help the team win.”

That was a key play in another strong start by Brayan Bello, who allowed just one run and six hits in 6 2/3 innings. The 24-year-old has gone six-plus innings in four straight starts and five of his past six.

Since allowing five earned runs in his first start this season, Bello hasn’t allowed more than three in 11 since.

“He was good, and he’s getting better,” Cora said of Bello. “Today was a challenge, quote-unquote, right? Regular rest against a lineup that hits the ball out of the ballpark. He gave us more than enough.”



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