Red Sox decision to wave Rafael Devers home backfires in gut-wrenching loss
By Sean Penney
A ninth-inning rally by the Boston Red Sox came up short when Rafael Devers was thrown out at the plate. Was it a mistake to send him home?
An ecstatic feeling quickly faded into utter despair as the Boston Red Sox fell short of a ninth-inning rally against the Minnesota Twins.
There were two outs with a runner on first and J.D. Martinez at the plate. A slider that crept back over the middle of the plate was hammered deep to left field. Off the bat, it looked like the ball would jump out of the park for a walk-off home run. The towering green wall stood defiantly in the way, knocking Martinez’ rocket down into the field of play to hold him to a double.
He wouldn’t win the game with that one swing but surely a Fenway double would be enough to score Rafael Devers from first. That’s what the young third baseman thought. He was off on contact, racing full steam around the bases with every intention of tying the game.
A play that seemed certain to drive in a run ultimately wasn’t even close. Twins left fielder Eddie Rosario played the ball perfectly off the wall, spun and delivered a laser to home plate. Devers was out by a mile to end the game.
After shaking off the initial moments of disbelief, the gut reaction was to blame Devers for a bonehead base-running decision. Perhaps he was trying too hard to make something happen. Then again, why was he given the green light, to begin with?
"“I had to wait and let the play develop,” Red Sox third base coach Carlos Febles told reporters, per WEEI’s Rob Bradford. “Rosario was playing in the left-center gap. Ball hits off the wall. I know Raffy’s coming hot. Now he has to make a decision: Throw it to the plate from there or hit the cutoff man. He came up and made a perfect throw to the plate.”"
The end result made the decision look worse than it actually was. It took a perfect throw from Rosario, who was positioned right where he needed to be for a fortunate bounce high off the left-field wall.
Devers acknowledged that he was aware of the strong arm of Rosario, who is tied for 10th among American League outfielders with seven assists. He tested him anyway and paid the price but that doesn’t necessarily mean it was a mistake to try. The odds are in the runner’s favor to score on that play and it took the right set of circumstances to spoil it. Sometimes you have to tip your cap to the outfielder for making a great play.
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Had Devers held at third base it would have sent Christian Vazquez to the plate with two runners in scoring position. A base hit would certainly tie it and potentially win the game. Vazquez is having a career year but he’s also mired in a 3-for-24 slump over the past week. Do you really want to put the fate of the game in his hands?
Waving the runner home was a bit aggressive but at this stage of the season, with the Red Sox fighting to climb back into a Wild Card spot, they need to show some aggression. They were facing one of the league’s best closers in Taylor Rogers and when you have a chance to squeeze out a run against an elite pitcher with the game on the line, you have to take it.
It didn’t work out this time but the Twins deserve credit for their execution more than the Red Sox deserve blame for falling short.