Red Sox

4 takeaways as Rafael Devers blasts 2 homers, lifts the Red Sox to a 6-2 win over the Yankees

“He’s one of the best third basemen in the big leagues, and he’s only 24.”

Rafael Devers received the ice bucket celebration at the end of the game. Barry Chin/Globe Staff

The Red Sox came from behind against the Yankees once again Friday and left with a 6-2 victory at Fenway Park.

Rafael Devers blasted a two-run homer in the fifth and a three-run shot in the seventh. The second was the 100th home run of his career, and both came at crucial points in the game.

“He’s one of the best third basemen in the big leagues,” manager Alex Cora said of Devers, “and he’s only 24.”

Here’s what happened as the Red Sox (60-38) stayed undefeated against the Yankees (50-46) at home this season and guaranteed at least a split in the four-game series.

The big picture

The Yankees scored one in the second on a Brett Gardner RBI double off Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez. Rodriguez left the game moments later due to migraine symptoms, and Phillips Valdez, Yacksel Rios, Garrett Whitlock, Darwinzon Hernández, and Brandon Workman allowed just four hits and one run while striking out 11 in eight innings of relief.

Advertisement:

Kiké Hernández bolted home on a sacrifice fly in the fifth to the score, and Devers’ two-run blast later in the inning was ultimately the difference, as he got ahold of a 100-mph fastball and smashed it over the Monster. The odds were already in the Red Sox’s favor before the encore, but his second bomb essentially put the game out of reach.

“It was just about making the adjustments I needed to, and luckily I was able to capitalize,” Devers said through a translator.

The Red Sox, who played 60 games last year, now have 60 wins on the season.

Stars of the game

Devers is the obvious choice – and he was certainly the main catalyst – but Valdez was also electric, as he struck out the side twice in three innings. Jarren Duran, who doubled and scored in his first start at Fenway, was a key contributor as well.

What it means

The Red Sox, who play 29 of their first 32 games after the All-Star Break against the American League, are now a Major League-best 26-12 against teams from their division. The Tampa Bay Rays also won, 10-5, over the Cleveland Indians, so the Red Sox are still nursing a one-game lead.

Advertisement:

Boston has now won 11 of its last 13 home games, is 31-20 against teams with a winning record, and has a Major League-best 31 come-from-behind victories.

The Red Sox moved to 53-7 when scoring four or more runs. They’re 7-31 when scoring three or fewer.

Takeaways

1. When Rodriguez left in the second inning, Phillips Valdez entered the game with runners at second and third and no outs and struck out the side to escape from the jam. He hit one batter, but otherwise his command was excellent.

Valdez, heard the news from the Red Sox last night, was officially recalled from Triple-A Worcester today, and arrived at the park around 3:30 p.m. on Friday. He was seemingly unfazed by the quick turnaround, allowing just one hit, no runs, one walk, and striking out seven in three innings. The Red Sox still trailed, 1-0, when he exited, but his poise helped them stay within striking distance.

Advertisement:

He became the first Red Sox pitcher since Rich Garces in 1996 to allow three or fewer baserunners with seven-plus strikeouts over three innings in relief and lowered his ERA to 3.76 this season.

Cora called him “a big league pitcher” and said he was amazing against the Yankees. He said he’s relentless and has “rubber arm,” meaning he can pitch many innings without wearing down.

“I told him if he needed 200 pitches, I could do it,” Valdez said through a translator. “I was ready to give whatever the team needed to get this win today.”

Advertisement:

2. After stranding a runner on second in both the third and fourth, the Red Sox erupted for three runs in a pivotal fifth. Hernández barely missed a homer over the Green Monster and settled for a long single that would have likely been a solo shot at any other Major League park. 

Duran hit one in the gap that ended up as a ground-rule double, then Hernández zoomed home on a sacrifice fly from Xander Bogaerts to tie the score at 1. Devers left no doubt whatsoever, launching a mammoth, 412-foot, two-run Monster shot off starter Gerrit Cole to give the Red Sox the lead.

Advertisement:

“We didn’t win the game early on, but we were winning innings,” Cora said.

3. Cole entered 10-4 with a 2.63 ERA. The Red Sox made him work most of the night, and eventually they wore him down. 

Cora said they were playing a “cat and mouse” game because of their familiarity with one another. He called him one of the best pitchers in the big leagues and said the fact that the Red Sox kept pace and eventually pulled ahead behind their bullpen made it a gratifying win.

Cole threw 104 pitches. He threw first-pitch strikes to 17 of 23 hitters and struck out eight, but it ended up not mattering as Devers took over.

“I know we didn’t score 20 runs,” Cora said, “… but we battled.”

4. While the Red Sox had many contributors on the evening, including Duran, Hernández, and the bullpen, the night belonged to Devers. He finished 2 for 4 with the two home runs and five RBIs and has now hit four homers in his last four games – all Red Sox wins. 

Devers has hit more home runs (four) on pitches 99 mph or faster than any other player in the Statcast era (since 2015). He became the third Red Sox player to hit 100-plus home runs before turning 25, joining Ted Williams and Tony Coniglaro, and is just the 49th player in Major League history to do so.

“It’s a true honor,” Devers said. “Those are two legends of this organization. To be mentioned in the same sentence is really special.”

Jump To Comments

Conversation

This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on Boston.com