Rafael Devers’ Ruthian night propels Red Sox to victory over Yankees

Tribune Content Agency

The rivalry may not be what it once was, but when a close game comes down to the wire, it still feels different than any other matchup.

Facing off for the first time this season, the Red Sox and Yankees went toe-to-toe in the Bronx on Friday night.

What began with three scoreless innings ended in a 3-2 nail-biter victory for Boston. They’re still at the bottom of the division, but back to .500.

Without the injured Aaron Judge, who leads the league with 19 home runs, the Yankees went quietly into the night. They collected nine hits, but went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base.

The Boston bats barely fared better. They compiled 10 hits, but went 1-for-4 RISP, also stranding seven.

A pair of home runs made all the difference. While Garrett Whitlock held down the fort against the team that opted not to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft, two of Boston’s youngest and brightest stars put the hurt on the Yankees starter.

Triston Casas began his night 2-for-2 and got the Red Sox on the board first with an RBI single, but Devers really stole the show by continuing his torment of Gerit Cole.

Entering the series, the 26-year-old third baseman had seven hits in 30 career regular-season at-bats against the Yankees right-hander, six of which were home runs.

And after doubling and scoring on Casas’ single in the fourth, Devers took Cole deep once again. His 405-foot, 106.1 mph blast is his 10th home run at Yankee Stadium, the second most he’s hit in any road park. According to Red Sox media relations, his 10th career home run at Yankee Stadium ties none other than Babe Ruth for the most home runs against the Yankees on the road before turning 27.

While Devers’ homer was the bigger deal for the aforementioned reasons, it was Kiké Hernández’s blast in the seventh that made the difference. His 391-foot homer soared into the air and cemented the slim, but decisive lead.

Cole exited after six innings and 101 pitches. He only allowed those two (earned) runs, but it extended his streak of being unable to put the Red Sox away. Since signing with the Yankees for a then-franchise record nine years and $324 million, he’s never pitched a scoreless outing against the Red Sox. His regular-season ERA against them is now 4.64 (11 starts).

Whitlock outlasted and out-pitched the Yankees starter. Over 6.1 innings, he allowed seven hits, an unearned run and one earned, walked one, and struck out six.

The 26-year-old right-hander already had ample experience mowing down his former franchise, including closing out the 2021 Wild Card game, but this was his first career start against them. Over 24.1 total innings against them, he owns a 1.85 ERA.

It was a fast game until the bottom of the ninth, when Kenley Jansen entered looking to earn his first-ever save against the Yankees. After getting two quick outs, the veteran closer allowed back-to-back singles, and worked a full-count, seven-pitch at-bat against Anthony Volpe before getting him to pop out to end the show.

Between moving Chris Sale to the 60-day injured list, the unearthing of Matt Dermody’s problematic social media history, and falling under .500, the Red Sox really needed a win.

And even though the rivalry hasn’t been the same since 2004, there’s still something about beating the Yankees in their own house that just hits different.

Kind of like a Devers homer off Cole.