Five Red Sox Takes: Rafael Devers is becoming a dominant No. 2 hitter

AP Photo/Charles KrupaBoston Red Sox's Rafael Devers watches his two-RBI double during the fourth inning of a baseball game agains the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park in Boston, Wednesday, July 17, 2019. 

BOSTON — Rafael Devers' move to the No. 2 hole has completely transformed the Red Sox offense. 

The 22-year-old has been a monster hitting behind Mookie Betts, and last night was no exception. Devers drove runners home in three plate appearances, and the Red Sox knocked off the Blue Jays, 5-4. 

Here are five takes from a rainy evening at the ballpark:  

1. Devers keeps delivering

It's not hyperbolic to say Devers is one of the best hitters in baseball right now.

Since May 1, Mike Trout and Xander Bogaerts are the only AL hitters with a higher OPS in at least 200 at-bats, and Devers' power seems effortless.

With a flick of the wrist, he sent an opposite-field homer into the Monster Seats in the third inning. When he came up in the fifth, runners advanced to second and third on a passed ball, and it felt like a foregone conclusion that Devers would drive both in. He did, smoking an RBI double in to the right-center gap. 

With the Sox clinging to a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the eighth, it was Devers — who else? — that provided some much-needed breathing room with an RBI single. He's been relentless at the plate. 

2. E-Rod: Workhorse? 

On July 18, Eduardo Rodriguez leads the Red Sox with 116 innings pitched, and his win over Toronto marked the fifth time in seven starts the lefty has pitched into the seventh inning. 

He only allowed three hits over 6 1/3 innings of work. Two of them left the ballpark, but they were Teoscar Hernandez solo shots, and for whatever reason, he's been kryptonite for everyone at Fenway Park this season. 

The Red Sox have desperately needed their starters to go deeper into ballgames, and Rodriguez is the only one who's been able to deliver with any consistency.

Exactly like you predicted in spring training, right? 

3. Taylor struggles in big spot

Tasked with his highest-leverage spot since joining the team, Josh Taylor couldn't get it done. 

Set to face Toronto's 2-3-4 hitters with a 4-2 edge in the eighth, Taylor's inning started off innocuously with a pop out, but then things spiraled. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. took the lefty over the Monster, and after hitting a batter and walking one, Alex Cora summoned Brandon Workman for a dicey five-out save. 

4. Work saves the day

On the verge of another late inning implosion, Workman was summoned with two on and one out in the eighth.

Workman escaped that jam with a pair of strikeouts, and navigated the ninth in shaky-but-successful fashion. It took 45 pitches, but he ultimately nailed down the five-out save. Something of an afterthought in spring training, the veteran has been far and away Boston's most trustworthy reliever this season.

5. Nice No. 9 hitter

Remember back in '03 when Bill Mueller won the batting title in the bottom third of the batting order? 

Brock Holt is doing his best imitation. 

Given his long stint on the Injured List to start the season, the utility man probably won't log enough at-bats to qualify, but with a 3-for-5 evening, he raised his batting average to .350 on the season. Not bad for a No. 9 guy. 

Chris Mason is a Red Sox beat writer for the Eagle-Tribune and CNHI Sports Boston. Email him at, and follow him on Twitter at @ByChrisMason

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