Can we talk about Sunday’s game-winning home run by Rafael Devers?
The home run is a rare bird in the 2022 game, with this year’s ball likely being flipped back in mid-May, those who study such things carefully say. A home run on a pitch that is not only not in the strike zone, but was never in the strike zone, is rare on another level.
If you’re Paul Sewald, or any pitcher, you’re very happy if a hitter swings 0-2 at that pitch. Even if it’s Devers. This season, he has hit about three dozen pitches in that high and far zone according to Baseball Savant, missing half the time. Before Sunday, the Dominican had 1 hit and 0 line drives on pitches in that zone, he has had much more success down and far, and for his entire free swing, only 1 of Devers’ first 13 home runs came on an off ball. the strike zone.
Sewald, 1 strike out of a scoreless eighth, wanted a swing there. Devers shouldn’t have given him one. Even the third baseman is going to have a hard time if he swings at that pitch too much.
But at the smallest of sample sizes, a great player can always do a great thing.
“He’s the only person I’ve ever seen do that,” JD Martinez, who homered on both Friday and Saturday to snap a month-long personal streak, told reporters. “It’s amazing. We talk about it all the time. He can cover so many pitches where a normal person can’t.”
“You can’t take away [la] aggressiveness,” manager Alex Cora told reporters.
“Launch was closer than you think,” Devers said.
All that said, it was easily the most credible part of a win to end an incredible West Coast swing, even if a team like the Red Sox probably should win 8 of 10 given the ugly state of the AL West beyond. from Houston.
Kutter Crawford, who found out he was going to start Sunday morning after Nate Eovaldi went on the DL, was superb for 5 innings to set the table. Rob Refsnyder, a Quad-A player, made the catch of his life to prevent Seattle phenom Julio Rodriguez from reaching the tying run.
It’s a tough way to win long-term, of course, with Eovaldi (back) and Garrett Whitlock (right hip) now absent from a rotation that still won’t have Chris Sale for at least another month. Fortunately, the schedule offers about two more weeks of relatively open court, at home to face Oakland, NL Central leader St. Louis, and Detroit, then three in equally shaky Cleveland.
After that, everything speeds up. 20 games against Toronto, the Yankees and the Rayts in 28 days, and that’s with the All-Star break. That’s quite a lot, as is three of the top four teams in baseball since May 17 being in the same division.
red sox – 18-7 (.720) since May 17, 32-29 overall
yankees – 17-7 (.708) since May 17, 44-16 overall
braves – 17-7 (.708) since May 17, 34-27 overall
tiles – 15-7 (.682) since May 17, 35-24 overall
Braves and Red Sox, those old subway neighbors, are trying to be the ones to stop the buzz of another modern subway series.
We can wait until we return to the division to make any big pronouncements about these Red Sox, who have played at a rate of 85 wins and a fourth-place finish that is probably the low end of our reasonable expectations. Even naysayers have to note that they’re ultimately closer to the Blue Jays than the Orioles, who released a “we’re definitely not moving the team, no sir” statement at 6:30 a.m. Monday like all normal teams do. .
In the meantime, this can continue to serve as a stress test for your pieces, many of which have already risen to the challenge. Franchy Cordero’s 3-run shot in Oakland off Frankie Montas further solidified the spot he’s earned in the lineup, but going on a streak, Bobby Dalbec got hot on tour, 2 homers in Seattle. He even seemed reasonably disciplined going 0-for-4 on Sunday.
Christian Vazquez is a free agent to be, and he sits relatively higher among receivers than you probably think. (It’s not hard to argue that he’s the most underrated player behind the plate.) In 27 high-stakes spots this season, as defined by Baseball Reference, he is hitting .455 with a .519 on base.
The pitching needs reinforcements, but since we also covered Friday, they are available. At a time when racking up wins in winnable games is a relatively low bar to overcome, the Red Sox are finding ways — the exact opposite of what it felt like when games like Saturday’s walk-off crusher were routine.
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MLB: Boston Red Sox and the ability to achieve incredible victories