BALTIMORE — Rafael Devers’s homer in the top of the second inning Sunday left on a line. In true Devers form, it got out of Camden Yards in a hurry, twisting its way over the head of Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins and over the 410-foot mark on the wall.
The ball was of, course, barreled, jumping off Devers’s bat at 110.7 m.p.h., landing 423 feet from the batter’s box Devers calls his home. Off Orioles starter Dean Kremer, it tied the contest at one apiece.
The Sox down a run in the sixth, Devers roped a double to right-center that scored two. It put the Sox ahead for good, the eventual 4-3 win setting up a chance at a four-game sweep Monday.
“The home run, that was eye opening,” manager Alex Cora said. “It seems like that ball was like five feet off the ground and it just kept carrying. He’s been doing a great job with men in scoring position. He’s been very patient lately, which is good.”
Devers’s swing always has conviction. If he takes a hack, it’s one that shows commitment. There’s no in between. He’s been steady and dominant this year, batting .288/.375/.576 (.951 OPS) with eight homers. He has 10 extra-base hits — eight doubles, two home runs — and 11 RBIs his last 13 games, batting .326 (15 for 46) in that span.
He’s shown a steady heartbeat, too, delivering when the Sox need him most. He’s hitting .405 (15 for 37) with runners in scoring position after his sixth-inning double. Devers lives up to the moment, according to Cora, certain he can deliver.
“There’s not a big moment for him,” Cora said. “He enjoys playing baseball. He’s just happy and you know, he’s like, ‘Why be upset or mad? I’m playing baseball. I’m making a lot of money. And I hit homers.’ So I mean, you can’t go against that. He’s very relaxed. He loves it.”
Devers continues to impose his will on the Orioles, with 14 homers against them — his most against any opponent — and a .305 average with a .964 OPS at Camden Yards.
“I really have no control over it,” Devers said with a smile. “It’s just a park, I guess. Like any other night, I’m glad to be hitting the ball well.”
Despite a rocky start and 103-pitch outing, Nick Pivetta completed six innings for the Red Sox. The Orioles fouled off a whopping 30 Pivetta pitches, which the righty attributed to him tipping. Pivetta issued back-to-back walks in the first, and a Ryan Mountcastle line drive single up the middle scored the first run of the game.
Cedric Mullins hit a solo shot in the fifth, but that would prove to be all the damage against Pivetta, 5-0 on the year with a 3.19 ERA.
“I was just mixing pitches, getting ahead of guys,” said Pivetta. “A lot of weak contact today. You know, just contact in general. The defense played tremendous behind me. A lot of really great plays.”
Hunter Renfroe homered to center in the eighth, a massive 453-foot shot and critical insurance run when the Orioles made it 4-3 against Adam Ottavino in the eighth on a hit batter, two groundouts, and a Mountcastle double. After Ottavino got Freddy Galvis to ground out, Matt Barnes put down the Orioles 1-2-3 on nine pitches in the ninth for his eighth save.
But it was Devers who imposed his will once more in Baltimore.
“I mean physically, I feel great,” Devers said. “I had a very, very, good offseason. I worked hard this offseason, I’ve worked hard during spring training. I continue to work hard.”