It would appear that Rafael Devers has gotten his fastball back.
After struggling with the heater in Houston this week, Devers got this weekend’s series against the Yankees started with a bang at Yankee Stadium on Friday night.
With two outs and runners at first and second in the top of the first, the 24-year-old greeted Yankees starter Michael King by crushing an 0-2, 96 mph fastball at the top of the zone to deep right field for a three-run home run.
Devers’ team-leading 15th homer of the season traveled 429 feet off the left-handed hitter’s bat and had an exit velocity of 112.4 mph, which would turn out to be the second hardest-hit ball of the night. It also gave the Red Sox an early 3-0 lead.
Gonzalez breaks out of slump with two-hit night
To his credit, King settled in for New York after a rough first inning. The Rhode Island native strung together four consecutive scoreless frames before allowing a one-out single to Xander Bogaerts in the sixth. That resulted in the Yankees turning to left-hander Lucas Luetge.
Hunter Renfroe greeted Luetge by advancing Bogaerts to second on a single, while Hunter Renfroe — who came into Friday’s contest in the midst of a 1-for-24 skid — scored both runners by lacing a two-run double down the left field line.
The Sox went ahead 5-0 on Gonzalez’s first hit since May 22, and the switch-hitter also reached base again on a one-out double later on in the ninth.
Eovaldi tosses six solid innings, but scuffles towards the end
Nathan Eovaldi made his 12th start of the season for the Red Sox on Friday, matched up against one of his former teams at a ballpark he knows quite well.
Over six innings of work, the veteran right-hander yielded two runs — only one of which was earned — on eight hits and zero walks to go along with seven strikeouts on the night.
Both runs Eovaldi surrendered came in his final frame of action, with Aaron Judge getting his side on the board with a two-out solo home run to the short porch and Gio Urshela scoring on a Marwin Gonzalez fielding AND throwing error later in the inning.
For how impressive he was in the beginning, Eovaldi gave up four of his eight hits in the sixth. Still, six quality innings is six quality innings.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 87 (59 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler’s next start should come against the Astros back at Fenway Park on Wednesday.
Strikeouts galore from the Red Sox bullpen
In relief of Eovaldi, right-handed reliever Hirokazu Sawamura got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen for the bottom half of the seventh inning.
Sawamura needed all of 12 pitches to punch out Gary Sanchez, Brett Gardner, and D.J. LeMahieu in order, and he also picked up two more strikeouts in a scoreless bottom of the eighth as well to pave the way for Matt Barnes.
Barnes, making his 24th appearance of the season, dominated to the tune of a three-strikeout inning in which he secured his 13th save of the year while also preserving a 5-2, series-opening victory for the Red Sox.
With the win, their second straight, the Sox improve to 34-23 on the season and move to a game back of the Rays for first place in the American League East
Next up: Rodriguez vs. Taillon
A struggling Eduardo Rodriguez will take the hill for the Red Sox against the Yankees on Saturday night. He will be opposed by right-hander Jameson Taillon.
Rodriguez is coming off the worst month of his career. In six May starts, the left-hander went 1-4 with a 7.28 ERA and .957 OPS against over 29 2/3 innings pitched. The Sox went 1-5 in those six starts.
Saturday will mark Rodriguez’s first outing at Yankee Stadium since August 2, 2019.
Tallion, meanwhile, carries with him a 5.10 ERA through his first 10 starts (47 2/3 innings) in a Yankees uniform. The 29-year-old has only made one prior start against the Red Sox, which came when he was a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates in April 2017.
First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. eastern time on FOX.
(Picture of Rafael Devers: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)