On a night where they lost starter Eduardo Rodriguez due to migraine symptoms early on, the Red Sox were still able to get it done against the Yankees at Fenway Park on Friday.
Powered by eight strong innings from the bullpen and a two-home run, five-RBI night from Rafael Devers, Boston defeated New York by a final score of 6-2 to take the first two games of this four-game weekend series.
Rodriguez, in what was his 19th start of the season, was forced to exit this contest in just the second inning because of migraine-related issues.
The left-hander had just yielded an RBI double to Brett Gardner with no outs in the second, and went into a crouch shortly thereafter before being visited by Red Sox manager Alex Cora, pitching coach Dave Bush, trainers, and his teammates on the mound.
After a few short moments, Rodriguez headed to the Sox dugout as his outing came to a premature close.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 25 (16 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler wound up surrendering one earned run on two hits and one walk to go along with one strikeout over one-plus inning of work.
In relief of Rodriguez, Phillips Valdez — who was just recalled from Triple-A Worcester earlier in the day — was forced into an emergency spot, and he did his job, and then some.
Making his first major-league appearance since June 9, Valdez escaped a bases-loaded jam to get out of the top of the second unscathed before stringing together two additional scoreless frames in which he recorded a career-best seven strikeouts.
Yacksel Rios took over for Valdez in the fifth, and he put up another zero to keep his side within one run at the midway point.
That would prove to be fruitful for the Red Sox lineup, who at that point had been held in check by Yankees ace Gerrit Cole. Kiké Hernández led things off with a hard-hit single in the bottom half of the fifth, and Jarren Duran followed by lacing a line-drive, ground-rule double into the triangle to put runners in scoring position for Bogaerts.
Bogaerts delivered with an RBI sacrifice fly that was hit just deep enough to right field to bring in Hernández from third and knot things up at 1-1, while Devers kicked off his brilliant night by clubbing a go-ahead two-run home run to deep center field — giving the Sox a 3-1 lead in the process of doing so.
Rios continued to keep the Yankees off the board in the sixth, as did Garrett Whitlock in the seventh to set the top half of the Sox lineup for success once more.
In the bottom of the seventh, matched up against New York reliever Nestor Cortes, back-to-back one-out singles from Hernández and Duran put runners at first and second with two outs for a red-hot Devers.
On the second pitch he saw from Cortes, a 1-0, 77 mph curveball at the top of the zone, Devers clobbered his second homer of the evening, with this one traveling 397 feet to center field with an exit velocity of 103 mph.
Devers’ second home run of the night, which was also his 26th of the season and the 100th of his major-league career, essentially put this one to bed, as it pushed the Red Sox’ advantage to five runs at 6-1.
From there, Darwinzon Hernandez maneuvered his way around a walk and a hit batsman in a scoreless top of the eighth, while Brandon Workman allowed one run, but otherwise shut the door on the Yankees to preserve a 6-2 victory for Boston.
With the win, the Red Sox improve to 60-38 on the season to maintain their one game lead over the Rays as well as the best record in the American League. They also extended their winning streak to three consecutive games.
Next up: Taillon vs. Eovaldi
The Red Sox will look to extend that winning streak to four straight ballgames as they go for the series victory over the Yankeeson Saturday afternoon.
Right-hander Jameson Taillon will get the ball for New York, while Boston will counter with fellow righty Nathan Eovaldi.
First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN and FS1.
(Picture of Rafael Devers: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)