Red Sox Notes: We Might Be Witnessing Rafael Devers’ ‘Breakout’ Season

Devers now has a .951 OPS this season

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Those around Boston have known for a while that Rafael Devers is, or at least has real potential to be, one of the most potent offensive players in baseball.

But what we’re seeing from him this season might be the early stages of what some would call a “breakout” campaign for the 24-year-old.

He continued his torturing of the Orioles in Baltimore on Sunday in a 4-3 win for the Boston Red Sox. He clubbed an impressive solo shot in the first inning before ripping a two-RBI double in the sixth. Though his average sits *only* at .288, his .951 OPS is a dead giveaway that he is, in fact, doing damage at the plate.

His ability to make hard contact in just about any situation — and do it more consistently nowadays, while waiting for the right pitch — could be at the root of all the success.

“The home run, that was eye-opening . I think that’s the first breaking ball they (threw him), and he’s all over it …,” Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters over Zoom after the game. “He’s been very patient lately, which is good. And when he does that he becomes very dangerous.”

Whatever the reasoning is, it’s working.

Here are some other notes from Sunday’s Red Sox-Orioles game:

— One more thing on Devers to really drive the point home that he’s good.

— Nick Pivetta continues to quietly put together a fantastic season. He dropped his ERA down a tick from 3.23 to 3.19 with a two-run three-hit performance across six innings.

“Mixing pitches, getting ahead of guys, a lot of weak contact today,” Pivetta said after the game. “Just contact in general, defense played tremendous behind me, a lot of really great plays. …

— When the starter is going, so too do the Red Sox.

With the victory, Boston now is 9-1 on the season when their starter goes at least six innings, according to Red Sox Notes on Twitter.

After the way the 2020 season went, this hardly is a surprise, but must be welcomed for the Sox nonetheless. It’s also telling with the impact it is having on the bullpen, as it has allowed relievers to stay way fresher than last season.

— Marwin Gonzalez is starting to build a case for the leadoff spot.

He had three hits Sunday after entering the game hitting 1-for-4 from the top place in the order. If nothing else, he gives the Red Sox another option with Alex Verdugo and, when healthy, Kiké Hernández.

— After a bumpy start to the season, Hunter Renfroe is having a solid month of May.

Not only did he make an impressive catch in the first inning, but he provided a key run with an eighth-inning, 453-foot solo shot that put Boston up 4-2.

It sounded beautiful off the bat.

“It’s pretty sweet. I tell people If you’ve never done it, it’s kind of hard to describe,” Renfroe told NESN’s Jahmai Webster after the game on “Red Sox Extra Innings LIVE.” “It feels like nothing, almost. It’s just a loud crack, the ball leaves the bat and you know where it’s going.”

Renfroe now is hitting .314 with three homers, one double, nine RBIs and seven runs scored.

— Matt Barnes continues to make his case as the best closer in baseball. He’s now 8-for-8 this season in save opportunities after making easy work of the O’s in the ninth.

Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers, first baseman Bobby Dalbec
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