The Boston Red Sox couldn’t have done this one without Rafael Devers.
Devers hit two home runs — the latter of which was the 100th of his career — to give the Red Sox the lead, then increase the distance against the New York Yankees on Friday night. Thanks to his heroics, what was a 1-1 tie resulted in a 6-2 win for the team in sole possession of the best record in the American League.
With the win, the Red Sox improved to 60-38. The Yankees dropped to 50-46.
Here’s how it went down at Fenway Park:
GAME IN A WORD
A quick exit for Eduardo Rodriguez meant anything could have happened, but the pitching staff mostly managed to hold it together. And on the other side of the ball, a quiet Red Sox offense erupted in the fifth inning to get on top.
Life comes at you fast.
ON THE BUMP
? Rodriguez got the start for the Red Sox, but he didn’t last long. After a strong first inning, he walked Gary Sanchez, allowed a single to Gleyber Torres then gave up an RBI-double to Brett Gardner that scored Sanchez and gave New York a 1-0 lead.
After the hit, Rodriguez crouched over on the mound and quickly came out of the game with an apparent injury, which the team announced was migraine symptoms. He ended the night allowing two hits and a run with one walk and one strikeout through one inning.
?Naturally, there was no one in the bullpen at the start of the second inning. The Red Sox turned to Phillips Valdez, who was called up from Triple-A Worcester earlier in the day to replace Hirokazu Sawamura, who was moved to the 10-day injured list with right tricep inflammation.
Of all the situations to come in to, it’s unlikely that Valdez envisioned his return to the big leagues in the second inning with runners in scoring position and no outs. But he handled it calmly, getting three outs on strikes (though he did hit Ryan LaMarre with a pitch in between.)
He was pulled after three innings, with seven punch-outs, a walk and a hit.
? Yacksel Rios (2 IP, 2 BB, 1 SO), Garrett Whitlock (1 IP, 1 H, 1 SO) and Darwinzon Hernandez (1 IP, 1 BB, 2 SO) combined for middle relief. Brandon Workman closed things down and finished with two hits and an earned run in the ninth.
IN THE BATTER’S BOX
? Xander Bogaerts, who snapped a cold streak during Thursday’s game, started things off strong with a two-out single in the top of the first, but to no avail. Hunter Renfroe also reached on a single in the second, but he also couldn’t capitalize.
? Kiké Hernández and Jarren Duran walked in the bottom of the third, but a pair of strikeouts from Bogaerts and Devers ended the threat and kept the Yankees on top 1-0.
? A double from Alex Verdugo in the bottom of the fourth could have been the difference-maker, since there was just one out at the time. But Renfroe flew out and Christian Vasquez went down on strikes to leave him stranded.
? Finally, the Red Sox got going in the fifth inning. Hernández reached on a single before scoring on a sacrifice fly from Bogaerts, and Devers was the ultimate hero with a two-run home run that put Boston up 3-1.
The home run scored Jarren Duran, who logged his first hit at Fenway Park on a ground-rule double.
? But that wasn’t enough for Devers, who came back in his next at-bat to launch the 100th home run of his career — a three-run blast that scored Hernández and Duran.
TWEET OF THE GAME
Yes, yes we would.
The Yankees stick around for an afternoon game Saturday, set for a 4:05 p.m. ET first pitch. Nathan Eovaldi will take the hill for the Red Sox, while Jameson Taillon will get the start for New York.