Rafael Devers launched his 30th homer of the season Tuesday afternoon when he stroked a first-pitch cutter from Yankees starter Randy Vasquez. It put Devers in rare territory, becoming the third Red Sox player (after Ted Williams and Jim Rice) with three 30-homer seasons by his age-26 season.
Devers’s slash line of .271/.344/.507 with 30 homers, 94 RBIs, and a .850 OPS through Tuesday’s doubleheader is impressive on paper. But beyond the numbers, Devers is clearly aware that this hasn’t been his best season.
“I haven’t been very consistent,” Devers said via a translator after the 3-2 loss in Game 1. “As a ballplayer, I know that those are good numbers that I have. But I know that I can give more and I know that that could have been a better season.”
The Red Sox inked Devers to a $313.5 million contract extension last offseason, and though opponents clearly feel his offensive impact, it’s been sporadic. Plus, he’s regressed on defense, posting minus-8 defensive runs saved entering Tuesday.
Asked if he feels added pressure because of his contract, Devers said, “I always made a lot of money in the game. So the money is not a concern. I always go out there to play my 100 percent. That’s not something I’m concerned about.”
Rafaela at second?
The Red Sox still have a hole at second base heading into next season. And even though Ceddanne Rafaela’s natural position is center field, followed by shortstop, the Sox have eyed Rafaela as a candidate to get some time at second next season.
Taking that into consideration, there’s a chance the Red Sox will get Rafaela some reps at second base during winter ball.
“If he goes, probably that’s going to be the case,” said manager Alex Cora. “We’ll talk about it. Last year he played for a little bit down there. It was beneficial for him. This year he has a lot of at-bats already, and we’ll see how he finishes and hopefully we can pull this off and we don’t have to talk about winter ball, right? But that’s something we’ll talk about in the upcoming days.”
Rafaela’s long-term position is to be determined. Cora mentioned that if Rafaela’s offensive skills develop, he could become a super-utility player.
“The fact that he can be versatile, I think the second base part of it is real,” said Cora. “We believe he can do it, too, it’s just a matter if we play him there in September, but versatility is a big part of this game. It helps your roster. He’s a good defender at short and center field and other positions. Talking to [Triple A Worcester manager] Chad Tracy yesterday, he was here for the day, he takes grounders at third and he looks like a natural, so he’s a good athlete that can do it all and we’ll see what the future holds.”
Rafaela played shortstop in the first game Tuesday, and was in center field in the second game. After going 0 for 3 with two strikeouts and a walk in Game 1, Rafaela was 2 for 5 with a solo homer (the first of his career) and a double in Game 2.
It was fitting that the Yankees were at Fenway for the 44th anniversary of Carl Yastrzemski’s 3,000th hit.
Yaz collected his milestone against New York on Sept. 12, 1979, by grounding a single through the right side in the eighth inning off Jim Beattie, who grew up in Maine watching the Red Sox.
The ball got past second baseman Willie Randolph and the game was paused as the Sox players came out of the dugout and a ceremony was held that included Yastrzemski’s family.
Yastrzemski was hitless in 10 at-bats before getting to 3,000. The “Yaz Watch” consumed Sox fans for several weeks as he approached the mark.
“I know one thing, this was the hardest of the 3,000,” Yastrzemski was quoted by Peter Gammons in a front-page story in the Globe the next day.
Yastrzemski finished his career with 3,419 hits, now ninth all time after he was passed by Derek Jeter in 2014.
Jansen exits in ninth
Kenley Jansen exited Game 2 in the top of the ninth inning because of what the team termed fatigue and illness. Cora said his closer was dizzy and was under further evaluation . . . Zack Kelly (elbow) will move his rehab assignment from High A Salem to Double A Portland beginning Wednesday . . . The Red Sox reinstated Pablo Reyes from the IL after Tuesday’s Game 1 and optioned Enmanuel Valdez to Worcester . . . Top pitching prospect Bryan Mata (shoulder) has been throwing live batting practices. He joined the WooSox Tuesday but has yet to be activated. The Sox are hoping to get him into a couple of games before the end of the season . . . Because of Monday night’s postponement, the Red Sox held a ceremony before Game 1 to commemorate the Sept. 11 attacks. It included scholarship winners from the First Responders Children’s Association being recognized and the national anthem performed by the Boston Fire Department acapella group . . . The Yankees called up righthander Zach McAllister from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Righthander Jonathan Loáisiga was placed on the 15-day injured list with elbow inflammation. To make room for McAllister on the 40-man roster, first baseman Anthony Rizzo was moved to the 60-day IL with post-concussion syndrome . . . Paid attendance Tuesday afternoon was 30,029, the lowest for a Red Sox-Yankees matchup at Fenway since May 27, 1999.
Peter Abraham of the Globe staff contributed to this report.