Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers is heating up at the plate
The Boston Red Sox got their revenge against the Baltimore Orioles, exploding for 27 runs in a three-game sweep that returned the favor from the humiliating series at Fenway to open the season. Several bats in the lineup deserve credit but perhaps the most encouraging was the breakout from Rafael Devers.
None of the everyday players in the lineup were struggling more than Devers entering the series in Baltimore. He went without a hit in his first three games and was 2-for-19 (.105) without an extra-base hit through the homestand.
The outlook changed quickly during the trip to Baltimore. Devers collected two hits in all three games to raise average to .250 for the season. He homered in all three games, including a multi-home run game in the finale on Sunday.
J.D. Martinez stole the headlines with his three-homer game but Devers had himself a day with a pair of his own. His three-run shot to deep center field broke the game wide open in the fifth inning. After the O’s rallied back to trim the lead to three, Martinez and Devers put the game away with home runs in the eighth inning. The 439-foot blast from Devers was the longest ball hit in a game that saw eight home runs between the two teams.
This game marked the fourth time in franchise history that a Red Sox hitter collected three homers in the same game that a teammate hit two.
Sunday was the 400th career game for Devers and the pair of home runs gave him 191 extra-base hits (78 home runs, 5 triples, 108 doubles). Only Ted Williams and Nomar Garciaparra (tied with 219) have more extra-base hits through their first 400 career games in a Red Sox uniform.
The power surge from Devers was an encouraging sign considering he has historically been a slow starter. Devers is a career .272 hitter in March/April and his .779 OPS is lower than in any other month.
In 2019, Devers didn’t hit his first home run until May 3, snapping a 32-game drought to open the season. He finished that season with a career-high 32 homers and led the majors in extra-base hits.
Devers regressed last season when he hit .263 with a .793 OPS in 57 games. The long hiatus when spring training was interrupted by the pandemic seemed to derail Devers, who appeared sluggish when he rejoined the team for summer camp in July. He hit a meager .183 with only two home runs through the first 21 games before regaining his previous form to finish strong with a .307 average and nine homers over his final 36 games.
His track record shows Devers takes time to get his bat going, especially with his power stroke. This year, it only took him about a week to start heating up.
Visiting Baltimore might have been a factor in this offensive surge. Devers has always enjoyed hitting in Camden Yards where he’s a .306/.375/.565 hitter with eight home runs in 26 career games.
Unfortunately, Devers will need to wait until next month before he returns to Baltimore. The Red Sox are in Minnesota for four games this week where Devers hasn’t found nearly as much success (.259/.286/.481 in six games at Target Field). It’s also expected to be much colder in Minnesota with some rain that could turn into snow over the next couple of days. Assuming those games are played through these weather concerns, Devers might cool off considering his history of struggling in months early and late in the season when the temperatures drop.
The Red Sox have 10 games at Fenway to look forward to following a few frigid days in Minnesota. If Devers can use the momentum he built up in Baltimore to carry him through this stretch, he could be in store for his best April ever. If his typical early season woes were indeed limited to only a week this time, Devers will be poised for a career year.