Whenever the Red Sox play the Yankees, all eyes turn to Rafael Devers.
Especially when it’s Gerrit Cole’s turn to start.
Pedro Martinez once thought the Yankees were his daddy, but Devers and the Red Sox truly are Cole’s. Entering the series, the 26-year-old already had seven career regular-season home runs against the Yankees ace, and on Saturday afternoon, the Red Sox wiped the floor with the Yankees, to the tune of an 8-1 final score.
Devers wasted no time. His 1-out single in the first inning was Boston’s first hit of the game. In his regular-season career, it was also his 10th hit off Cole, and 50th single/90th hit against Yankees pitching.
Cole likely breathed a sigh of relief that Devers’ 101.9 mph scorcher was simply a single, but he’d soon face trouble from a most unlikely source.
The Yankees starter began the top of the second by allowing back-to-back singles to Adam Duvall and Jarren Duran, then walked Pablo Reyes to load the bases for Luis Urías.
Entering Saturday, Urías had played the Yankees twice, and never at their ballpark. He’d only faced Cole once before, going 0-for-2 against him on September 18, 2022. However, the Red Sox newcomer also came into the contest riding high, after hitting his first-ever grand slam in his last game, Thursday’s series finale in Washington DC.
Urías turned on the first pitch he saw for a 404-foot grand slam.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, he’s the first Red Sox player to hit grand slams in back-to-back games since Jimmie Foxx in 1940, and the first Red Sox No. 9 hitter to hit a grand slam against the Yankees since Luis Rivera on August 31, 1990. Until Saturday, a Major Leaguer hadn’t hit two grand slams in consecutive plate appearances since Josh Willingham hit them in back-to-back innings on July 27, 2009.
In the top of the fourth, another unexpected player came for Cole. Connor Wong sent the first pitch he saw soaring 379 feet into the bullpen for a 2-run blast. By the end of the fourth, the Red Sox pushed the Yankees’ ace’s ERA over 3 for the first time this season. Devers was the last batter he faced; his 394-foot lineout was the second-farthest hit of the game and would’ve been a home run at four National League ballparks, but not in the Bronx.
Devers may have Cole’s number (and account for a third of his team’s home runs off him), but the 32-year-old right-hander’s overall struggles against the Red Sox are well-documented. He came into Saturday’s start with a 4.31 career ERA over 16 regular-season meetings. In over 120 years of the rivalry, he’s just the 10th Yankees pitcher to allow more than 21 home runs in their career against the Red Sox, and the first to do so in under 22 games.
Cole didn’t return for the fifth, making Saturday his shortest start of the season. He’d pitched at least six innings in each of his previous eight starts, and only exited before finishing the fifth once this year. For the 22nd time and only seventh time this century, a Yankees starter allowed at least six runs and two or more homers in a start of no more than four innings against the Red Sox; it hadn’t happened since September 2020.
Meanwhile, Kutter Crawford carried a no-hitter into the bottom of the sixth. With one out in the inning, Aaron Judge broke up the bid with his second home run in as many games. Unlike his Friday night round-tripper, which wouldn’t have been a homer at any other Major League ballpark, this 413-foot blast would be gone at 27 of the 30 arenas.
Where would the Red Sox be without Crawford? He’s quietly put together a strong season while moving back and forth between the rotation and bullpen. When Tanner Houck returns on Monday, they’ll likely put Crawford back in the bullpen, but not for lack of contribution.
John Schreiber and Mauricio Llovera handled the final three frames. Schreiber gave up one hit, but neither reliever issued a walk. Llovera pitched the eighth and ninth, and got the Bronx bats 1-2-3 in the each inning to slam the door.
Devers ended up homering in the ninth to extend the lead to 8-1, finish the day 3-for-5, and officially surpass his 2022 total (27). The 440-footer is his 22nd career round-tripper against the Yankees, tied for the fourth-most by any MLB player against them before turning 27.
On June 9, Devers joined Ted Williams as the only two players in franchise history to reach the 20-homer benchmark against the Yankees before turning 27. A day later, the third baseman entered a category all his own when he hit another. won’t celebrate his birthday until October 24.
The Yankees have looked lost for weeks, and they didn’t find themselves on Saturday. By game’s end, they’d managed just two hits, including Judge’s home run. Boston is 7-1 in the season series.
Imagine telling someone, in the spring of 2004, that the Red Sox should play the Yankees every game.
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