Home run by Rafael Devers might get the Red Sox third baseman going
Alex Cora had a feeling. Prior to Thursday afternoon’s game against the Baltimore Orioles, the Boston Red Sox manager commented on how Rafael Devers loves hitting at Camden Yards. Maybe Devers would “pop one out” of the hitter-friendly park to get his bat going.
Devers entered the day in a 2-for-19 (.105) skid to begin the season. The 2019 league-leader in extra-base hits was still searching for his first this year.
A trip to Baltimore, where he was a .284/.346/.353 hitter in 23 career games, is all he needed to bust out of this slump, just as his manager predicted. Devers didn’t wait around long to pounce on the Orioles, blasting a monster two-run home run to put the Red Sox on the board in the first inning.
Devers took a 94 mph fastball from Orioles starter Matt Harvey that hung over the middle of the plate and launched it deep into the center field seats.
The 452-foot blast traveled further than any ball hit by a Red Sox player last season, topping the 449-foot homer by Devers, per Statcast. The 111 mph exit velocity on this latest home run from Devers was exceeded by only three Red Sox hitters last season, including Devers, who led the team with a 116.7 max exit velocity in 2020.
Devers is certainly no stranger to hitting the ball hard to make it fly a long way. He has ranked inside the top five percent of the league in exit velocity in each of the last two seasons, including a career-high 93 mph exit velocity last season.
It would turn into a multi-hit game for Devers when he led off the sixth inning with a base hit and later came around to score the game-tying run. The two-hit day raised his batting average to .182 for the season. A couple more games like this and that average will be up to a respectable level.
The Red Sox rally wouldn’t end until they had reclaimed the lead, finally getting their revenge against an Orioles team that humiliated them during a three-game sweep at Fenway Park to open the season.
Devers has historically been a slow starter with a career .261/.335/.376 slash line in March/April. Perhaps it’s the cold weather in Boston during those early weeks of the season that doesn’t agree with the Dominican native. It was a frigid 40 degrees at Fenway Park on Opening Day. When the weather heats up, so does the bat of Devers. With temperatures approaching the upper-60s in Baltimore this afternoon, Devers looked much more comfortable at the plate.
The Red Sox need their emerging star third baseman to thrive as a key cog in the middle of the lineup. It was a frustrating six-game stretch to begin the season but today’s performance is the first positive sign that Devers is finding his groove.