July 21, 2024

Red Sox’s Rafael Devers makes Yankees pay again with two more homers

Luis Gil was pitching a gem — his first in a while — when Rafael Devers stepped to the plate with one out in the top of the seventh.

Instead of calling on Luke Weaver — who was warming in the bullpen — to face the Red Sox slugger, Aaron Boone and the Yankees stayed with Gil.

Devers then did what he’s done so often against the Yankees — not just this season, but throughout his career: He homered.

Rafael Devers watches his home run off Luis Gil during the seventh inning on Sunday night in The Bronx.

Rafael Devers watches his home run off Luis Gil during the seventh inning on Sunday night in The Bronx. N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg

Rafael Devers rounds the bases after homering during the Red Sox's win against the Yankees.

Rafael Devers rounds the bases after homering during the Red Sox’s win against the Yankees. Charles Wenzelberg

And then he did it again off Michael Tonkin in the ninth to seal the 3-0 win in The Bronx on Sunday.

Asked if he considered removing Gil for Weaver in the seventh, Boone said he did “a little bit.”

But the manager noted the similar “profiles” of Gil and Weaver.

The decision didn’t pay off.

It wasn’t the first time.

Devers’ 28 career home runs against the Yankees is most among active players and his 16 at the current Stadium matches Evan Longoria for the third-most in its history — behind only Jose Bautista (19) and Edwin Encarnacion (18).

Devers has been so good that Boone was even asked if he thought of walking the third baseman intentionally with no one on and one out in the seventh.

“No,’’ Boone said. “No. Zero [thought]. No.”

When the topic continued, Boone said emphatically: “I’m not gonna walk him there intentionally with the bases empty at 0-0. We know who he is. We know where he is. I hear you, but I’m not gonna intentionally walk him.”

Instead, the Yankees have tried to be careful against Devers, with little success.

Given the numbers Devers has put up when facing the Yankees, there’s clearly cause for concern.

“We dig into that a lot, believe me,” Boone said of the Yankees’ approach. “Sometimes it’s time and place in a season and a guy comes in swinging well. He’s a great player. … We invest a lot into where to get him.”

Aaron Boone, manager of the New York Yankees, walking to the mound to remove starting pitcher Luis Gil from the game at Yankee Stadium

Aaron Boone removes Luis Gil from the game. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

Rafael Devers fields DJ LeMahieu's slow roller during the eighth inning on Sunday.

Rafael Devers fields DJ LeMahieu’s slow roller during the eighth inning on Sunday. USA TODAY Sports

And as Devers proved when he took Tonkin deep on a 93 mph four-seamer up and away — and well out of the strike zone — there’s not much you can do to avoid his damage.

“He’s definitely a guy that’s performed incredibly well,” Boone said. “We’d like to do a better job against him.”

Devers didn’t just limit his production to the plate.

He also made a fine play on DJ LeMahieu’s slow chopper to third to end the bottom of the eighth with a runner on base.

Devers barehanded the ball and made a strong throw to first.

He’s most dangerous with the bat — especially in The Bronx.

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In his past 10 games there, Devers is hitting .463 (19-for-41) with seven homers and two doubles.

Fortunately for the Yankees, the Red Sox won’t be back until September.

By then, who knows how the AL East standings will look, as the slumping Yankees have struggled against just about everyone since the middle of June.

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