BOSTON — Rafael Devers did in the Yankees at Fenway Park. Again.
The Red Sox third baseman, who hit a three-run homer off Gerrit Cole in a blowout Yankees loss here June 27, got the ace righty again Friday night with a tiebreaking two-run shot with two outs in the fifth inning.
Devers added a three-run bomb off Nestor Cortes Jr. with two outs in the seventh, putting the Yankees well on their way to a 6-2 loss in front of a rocking crowd of 34,922 at Fenway Park. The two homers gave Devers 26.
The Yankees (50-46), who came into this series having won nine of their last 12, now sit nine games behind the AL East-leading Red Sox (60-38).
Cole (10-5, 2.74) was at the top of his game in the first four innings, at which point he held a 1-0 lead. His curveball, slider and changeup bobbed and weaved and his fastball hummed and moved in the upper part of the strike zone. At that point, he had allowed a run and 11 hits with 30 strikeouts in his last 19 innings and seemed to be on a roll, but things changed in the fifth.
After Kike Hernandez singled with one out, Jarren Duran roped a drive into the triangle in center, but the ball skipped into the seats for a ground-rule double. Hernandez, who would have scored easily had the ball stayed in play, had to stop at third.
Xander Bogaerts’ sacrifice fly to short right brought in Hernandez, who just beat Greg Allen’s throw to the plate. Devers then jumped on a 99-mph fastball and sent it into the seats atop the Green Monster in left-center.
Said Cole, "Devers puts an unbelievable swing on a pitch that probably missed six or seven inches a little too low . . . Devers is a special player, so I’m not surprised that he can hit that pitch out. Why does it have to go out? I don’t know. Again, I probably missed there by . . . I’d like it in the same column at the top half of the zone there. That was the pitch we’re going for, but we got smoked, and that’s the game."
Cole allowed three runs, six hits and two walks and struck out eight in five innings. He threw 104 pitches, including 70 in the first three innings. "They had a great night offensively,’’ he said. "Obviously, Devers with the finishing blows. Twice. Just really just good at-bats all night. A tough one out there. Made some good pitches but ultimately didn’t come through."
The Yankees scored in the second but also started paving their way to a loss in the inning.
Gary Sanchez worked a leadoff walk and Gleyber Torres singled to left. Brett Gardner lined a 2-and-2 sinker to left-center for an RBI double, making it 1-0 and putting runners at second and third with none out.
After allowing the double, Sox lefthander Eduardo Rodriguez bent over, clearly in discomfort, and stayed that way for several minutes before eventually walking off the mound. The Red Sox later said Rodriguez, 2-1 with a 2.83 ERA in his previous five starts, was removed with "migraine symptoms."
He was replaced by Phillips Valdez, who fanned Chris Gittens. After Ryan LaMarre was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Allen and DJ LeMahieu struck out. "Any time we get a chance like that, we need to push more runs across,’’ LeMahieu said. "With Gerrit on the mound, it didn’t feel like the game at the time, but it ended up being some pretty big runs."
Making the night even worse for the Yankees, Sanchez left the game after five innings with mid-back spasms. "We’ll just see how he responds overnight,’’ Aaron Boone said. "It just really kind of locked up on him [in the fifth]. So he’s in there still getting treatment now and I know he’s had some improvement, but we’ll just see where we’re at overnight and tomorrow."