NEW YORK — Rafael Devers has been on the precipice of a tear all season, only to falter — at least to his standards.
The Red Sox’ $300 million man has put together a quality season, but the third baseman has not quite peaked.
Against the Yankees, which ended in a sweep with Sunday’s 6-5 win, he might have changed that narrative. Devers went 3 for 4 with a double and a homer, his 29th of the season.
He’s batting .556 with a double, three homers, and six RBIs his past four games. Devers has recorded multiple hits in three straight games, tying a season high. It helped that he played the Yankees, too, who he has dominated — belting the second-most homers against New York (23) among active players. In nine games this season, Devers is batting .429 with four homers and seven RBIs.
“It started in the last game in Washington,” said manager Alex Cora following his team’s win. “He put together some good swings. Just from talking to him, he’s locked in. He’s flatter with his bat to the baseball. He’s going to miss some pitches, but he’s putting together good at-bats and had a great weekend.”
“It’s been the same routine throughout the entire year,” said Devers through a team translator. “I just happen to be more confident at the plate. I’ve been having the same routine and everything. I’m just having better at-bats.”
Skipper sent to showers
Cora was ejected in the middle of the sixth inning for arguing a called third strike with Trevor Story at the plate.
With the Sox leading, 2-1, and reliever Michael King on the mound, Story took what appeared to be a ball beneath the zone on a full count. Instead, it was called strike three, leaving runners stranded on first and second.
Story had words with umpire Junior Valentine. Cora came running out of the dugout and was immediately thrown out, stamping the Sox manager’s 12th career ejection and third this season. Cora was forthcoming about Valentine’s strike zone.
“We know what’s going on [in the standings],” he said. “And for us, every [expletive] pitch counts. If I get fined I get fined, but we didn’t agree with the [expletive] strike zone.”
Tanner Houck set to go Tuesday
Tanner Houck missed more than two months because of a facial fracture. However, Cora said Houck will soon be reinstated from the injured list and pitch in Tuesday’s matchup against the Astros. The rotation finally will be at full strength with Houck in the mix after the Sox have had to navigate a summer full of bullpen games and openers.
“Our pitching staff is at full force,” said Cora. “They’re in a good place right now. Will it work? We’ll see. These guys are throwing the ball well and our bullpen is going to get better.”
Jarren Duran leaves with bruised toe
Jarren Duran left with a bruised toe in the top of the eighth inning. He hurt his toe in the sixth, climbing the wall on what resulted in a Gleyber Torres solo homer.
Duran grounded to third baseman Isiah Kiner-Falefa in the eighth and came up hobbling. Duran limped off the field and was followed by a member of the Sox staff once he reached the dugout.
He was replaced by Rob Refsnyder in left field. The club will reassess Duran’s status Monday.
The Red Sox escaped a jam in the bottom of the eighth inning. With the score tied, 5-5, Anthony Volpe laced a single to left. Refsnyder slipped, and Kiner-Falefa, the runner at first, attempted to score. Refsnyder delivered a strike to Story, the cutoff man, who threw a one-hopper to Connor Wong at the plate. Kiner-Falefa was called safe, but after a long review, was called out. In addition, MLB’s replay team also reviewed Wong’s placement, ensuring he wasn’t blocking the plate. That, too, worked in favor of the Sox.
An explanation from MLB’s Replay Supervisor was distributed to media members following the contest.
“After viewing all relevant angles, the Replay Official definitively determined that the catcher tagged the runner prior to the runner touching home plate. The call is OVERTURNED, the runner is out.
“After viewing all relevant angles, the Replay Official definitively determined that no violation of the Home Plate Collision Rule occurred. The catcher’s initial setup was legal and he moved in reaction to the trajectory and hop of the throw. The call is CONFIRMED, it is not a violation.”
Casas might play Monday
Triston Casas missed his second straight contest because of a tooth infection. He went to a local hospital in New York Saturday and had the tooth drained. Casas will travel with the team to Houston, where he will have a follow-up appointment Monday. If all goes well, Casas will play in Monday night’s series opener against the Astros … Story is close to playing shortstop on an everyday basis. He’s playing short every other day as he continues to get his reps and timing after offseason elbow surgery. Cora said the team believes Story will be ready to transition for the upcoming series with the Dodgers at Fenway. Probable pitchers for the Astros series beginning Monday: James Paxton vs. Cristian Javier; Houck vs. Justin Verlander; Chris Sale vs. Jose Urquidy; Brayan Bello vs. J.P. France.