Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers went 2-for-5 with a pair of singles and a run scored in Friday night’s 5-4 loss to the Astros in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.
Friday marked Devers’ — and the Sox’ — first in-game action since this past Monday after they eliminated the Rays from the postseason by taking the American League Division Series in a convincing four games.
During that series, it became apparent that Devers was dealing with some sort of arm or wrist injury that was later reported by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier and Michael Silverman to be right forearm discomfort.
Throughout the ALDS, Devers would show signs of discomfort whenever he would swing and miss at the plate, particularly on a pitch that was high up in the strike zone.
Dismissed by Sox manager Alex Cora as the usual wear-and-tear from a 162-game regular season, Devers still produced despite the pain he was experiencing. The soon-to-be 25-year-old slugger went 6-for-18 (.333) with two home runs and six RBI in the ALDS.
In the fourth and final game of the series at Fenway Park, the first-time All-Star cranked a three-run home run off Rays left-hander Shane McClanahan that gave his side an early 3-0 lead in the third inning of an eventual 6-5 walk-off victory.
Following a much-needed period of rest, Devers picked up where he left off by putting together another multi-hit performance for the Sox on Friday, though it was ultimately not enough to lift them to a series-opening win over the Astros.
Over the course of his five trips to the plate in Game 1, Devers saw a total of 16 pitches. He swung and miss on just two occasions during his seventh-inning at bat against left-handed reliever Brooks Raley.
On his first whiff, which came on a first-pitch slider that was down and away, Devers promptly dropped his bat with his right hand after taking one step out of the batter’s box.
On his second whiff, which came on a 1-1 sinker that was down and in, Devers dropped to a knee before flexing and looking at his right arm, as he has been doing for the last few weeks.
As noted by Speier and Silverman earlier this month, Devers has been wearing a compression sleeve on his right arm since September 26 and has continued to do so throughout the postseason.
That being said, when speaking with reporters ahead of Game 2 of the ALCS on Saturday afternoon, Devers indicated that he and his right arm are in a better place now health-wise.
“I’m feeling a lot better now,” explained Devers. “Obviously, with the training staff, with everything that they were able to do to help me feel better out on the field, it feels a lot better than it did in the last round. So, I’m fortunate enough to be able to feel better than I did last time.”
Devers will be starting at third base and batting third for the Sox as they look to even up this best-of-seven series at one game apiece before heading back to Boston.
When asked if there is a sense of urgency within the Red Sox clubhouse since they are trailing in the series, Devers cited recent history as a reason why there is no reason to panic.
“It’s just one game. Obviously, we lost the first game against Tampa as well, and we lost our first game in the ALCS in 2018,” he said. “But we’re just going to go out there and compete. It’s a long series, and we know that we have what it takes in order to take a game here, and once we do and if we can, we’ll go back home and play games out there where we feel a lot more comfortable as well. We feel good about where we’re at right now.”
(Picture of Rafael Devers: Elsa/Getty Images)