DETROIT — The Red Sox might not have opened the season on a team-wide offensive tear, but there’s one player who has certainly been a consistent presence at the plate so far.
Boston’s third baseman came up to bat in the sixth inning of Boston’s eventual 5-3 win over Detroit on Tuesday afternoon having already logged one hit on the day, a single in the fourth off Tigers starter Tyler Alexander.
With Kiké Hernández on second after doubling in Kevin Plawecki, Devers singled to right-center to score Hernández, cutting the Tigers’ lead to 3-2. J.D. Martinez proceeded to drive in Devers to tie the game.
In the eighth inning, Hernández had walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Devers stepped in and did what he’s been doing throughout this young season, getting a clutch base hit to score Hernández for the 4-3 lead.
“He’s been swinging the bat well,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “He did a great job staying up the middle, understanding the situation. He is who he is. He’s a good player and we’re very proud of him.”
Devers took second on the play after Tigers centerfielder Akil Baddoo made a fielding error, eventually scoring on Christian Arroyo’s two-out single.
Through an interpreter, Devers spoke about his three-hit, two-RBI day but stayed focused on the team.
“It feels good,” Devers said. “Obviously just gotta continue to work every single day. We’re fortunate to be able to get the win today because that’s what we came here for, to win ballgames. We’re glad we got the win today and we’re just trying to keep it rolling.”
Devers has at least one hit in every game so far this year and has five hits in the last two.
“Obviously I’ve put in a lot of work this offseason and just trying to see what happens this season,” Devers said. “I’m ready for it and just hoping for a good year. I’ve learned a lot from my teammates, as well, so they’ve prepared me for this. So I feel really good this year.”
With the team posting five runs on nine hits in the victory, Devers believes things are looking up for the Red Sox offense.
“That’s a part of baseball,” Devers said. “Obviously the season just started and there’s going to be times where we have stretches where it’s bad, sometimes we’re good, so we’re just getting everything together. But everyone feels good, spirits are high so we’re in a good place.”
Even though Devers has been hitting, Cora said it hasn’t been perfect. But the hit up the middle was a good sign in his mind.
“It’s important,” Cora said. “He’s been long for probably two days. He was long until that last at-bat, he hit a rocket off [Gregory] Soto. But that’s the things that he can do now. I think sometimes teams are going to attack him a certain way and he feels like he has to swing harder. It’s the other way around, just take what they give you. That’s the mark of a professional hitter.”
Cora said that he has seen the maturation of Devers, who is 25 years old.
“He knows what’s going on,” Cora said. “Even in the last at-bat, he looked back, 3-2 count, he got [Xander Bogaerts] and Bogie right now is not swinging the bat well. Instead of trying to do too much, he saw the ball, hit it up the middle. That’s what good hitters do and we have a good one.”
Hill allowed three runs on five hits while walking one and striking out four in 4 1/3 innings, while Whitlock came in and threw four scoreless innings, walking one and striking out two.
“There’s a reason we like them together,” Cora said. “They’re gonna load up with righties against Rich and he can get them out and then we can turn the page to Whitlock and we get a lot of good matchups for us. I think both of them complement each other well, 88 with ride and then 94-95 with that stuff. It’s a good plan. It’s just a matter of how long we can do it.”