SEATTLE — Rafael Devers’ first major league hit — a home run, no less, in the third inning of Wednesday’s 4-0 win over the Mariners — traveled 427 feet.
There are nearly as many reasons for the Boston Red Sox to not send him back to the minors later this week.
Devers got called up three days ago from Triple-A. He joined the Red Sox in Seattle on Monday and made his debut one night later. He’s the youngest player in the big leagues, three months shy of turning 21, and acts like it, walking around with wide eyes and a perma-grin on his face.
Oh, and Devers can play, too. He worked two walks Tuesday night and made a smart read on a wild pitch in the dirt to help fuel a three-run rally. On Wednesday, he crushed a fastball from Mariners starter Andrew Moore to straightaway center field, becoming the youngest Red Sox player to homer since Tony Conigliaro in 1965, and later singled off tough lefty reliever Marc Rzepczynski.
But let’s go back to that smile. For a Red Sox team that has been characterized by David Price’s scowl, Devers’ baby face was as refreshing as the breeze off Puget Sound. It’s worth keeping around, too, even when veteran infielder Eduardo Nunez joins the team Friday after being acquired from the San Francisco Giants late Tuesday night.
Rafael Devers, a 20-year-old rookie, has given the Red Sox a shot in the arm since being called up Monday. Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports “[Devers] is fun to watch,” said ace Chris Sale, who stretched his post-All-Star break scoreless streak to 20⅔ innings by shutting out the Mariners for seven innings in a sweep-averting victory. “He’s a new face in the clubhouse. Everybody had their first day, second day in the big leagues. You go back to that time and think about what it was like. To see him here and doing what he’s doing, he’s the youngest guy in the big leagues by a pretty good margin. Just the way he handles himself, it’s fun to watch.”
Imagine that? These Red Sox haven’t been much fun lately. They’re still in first place in the American League East, but 12 losses in 19 games since the Fourth of July have trimmed their lead from four games to one. When Price isn’t sniping at members of the media, including Hall of Fame pitcher Dennis Eckersley on the team plane, manager John Farrell catches heat for not apologizing on Price’s behalf and legitimate questions arise about a leadership void in the clubhouse.
Fun? Not quite.
But maybe Devers’ arrival can help change all that. Perhaps the infusion of a 20-year-old kid who wore braces as recently as last year can remind the Red Sox that things could be a lot worse than being 56-47 and leading your division.
“I think that as long as I’m playing the game I’m going to be happy because that’s just my style of baseball,” Devers said through an interpreter. “If I’m not having fun while I’m out there, there’s really no reason for me to be out there.”
The only reason Devers wouldn’t be out there in Fenway Park on Friday night against the Kansas City Royals is if the Red Sox determine that he won’t get enough at-bats in a third-base platoon with Nunez. The Sox acquired Nunez because they believe he can boost their struggling offense, and both Farrell and president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski have said they expect him to play regularly.
But there are ways for that to happen while still giving Devers regular at-bats. Nunez also plays shortstop and second base, where he could spell both banged-up Xander Bogaerts and Dustin Pedroia, respectively, once a week. And with Hanley Ramirez playing first base more often lately, Nunez and Devers could rotate through the designated-hitter spot.
Here’s the bottom line: Are the Red Sox better with Devers on the roster?
Even after only two games, the answer is obvious.
“He’s cheap mlb jerseys authentic got something special in that bat,” Farrell said of Devers. “This is not an easy ballpark to hit a ball out of to center field. Then he gets the left-hander and stays in the middle of the field for the line drive. He’s been impressive in the two days he’s been on the field.
“We’ve talked quite a bit recently about the need to get offense, and today is a display of what he’s capable of doing. He hasn’t hurt his cause by any means with what he’s done in a very short look. He’s taking care of what he can on his end.”
Devers admits he was nervous in the first inning Tuesday night. After that, though, he was cool as could be, from drawing a five-pitch walk against Seattle ace Felix Hernandez to handling every ball that was hit to him at third base.
If that wasn’t impressive enough, Devers became the first Red Sox player since Daniel Nava in 2010 to homer for his first hit when he took Moore deep. He circled the bases quickly, and thanks to a few phone calls and a reliable clubhouse attendant, the ball was retrieved and sitting in Devers’ locker after the game.
“It was surreal,” Devers said. “When I got back to the dugout I could barely walk, to be honest with you. I was just so happy about it.”
It was only too bad Devers’ family wasn’t here. He said his father was all set to book a plane ticket from the Dominican Republic, but Devers suggested his family meet him in Boston rather than trekking all the way to the West Coast.
“I don’t know how, but I can guarantee my dad found a way to watch the game today,” Devers said. “And I’m sure that my whole family was watching it there with him.”
As he spoke, Devers smiled, of course. If he sticks around long enough, maybe the rest of the Red Sox will start smiling more, too.
CHICAGO — One after another, the starting pitchers for the Chicago Cubs are delivering every night.
It was Jake Arrieta’s turn on Wednesday.
Arrieta pitched two-hit ball into the seventh inning, and the Cubs beat the Chicago White Sox 8-3 to move into first in the NL Central.
After a disappointing start to the season, the Cubs (53-47) are roaring again. The reigning World Series champions moved a season-high six games over .500 and a half-game ahead of Milwaukee after trailing the Brewers by 5 1/2 games just two weeks ago.
“We expect to remain in first place throughout the remainder of the way,” Arrieta said. “We know it’s going to be a tough task, but that’s kind of what you deal with at the highest level of sports.”
If their starting pitchers continue their recent roll, they should be in great shape at the end of wholesale mlb jerseys the season. The rotation of Arrieta, Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, John Lackey and Kyle Hendricks is 9-0 with a 2.50 ERA in the last 12 games.
“I just want to be able to have all my pitches available regardless of the situation,” Arrieta said, “and that’s kind of how tonight worked out.”
Anthony Rizzo had three hits and four RBI, helping the Cubs improve to 10-2 since the All-Star break. Jon Jay drove in a run and robbed Melky Cabrera of a hit with an outstanding diving catch in left-center.
After finishing their series against the last-place White Sox on Thursday night, the Cubs visit Milwaukee for a three-game set this weekend.
Top prospect Yoan Moncada hit his first career homer and Alen Hanson also went deep, but the White Sox lost for the 11th time in 12 games. Moncada came over from Boston in the Chris Sale trade.
“It means a lot because it’s the first one of many that are coming. I’m happy.” Moncada said through a translator.
Third baseman Yolmer Sanchez committed a costly error for the South Siders, and James Shields (2-3) lasted just four-plus innings.
The White Sox (39-59) played without All-Star outfielder Avisail Garcia, who is expected to miss a couple weeks after an MRI revealed a strained ligament in his right thumb. He went 0 for 5 in Tuesday’s 7-2 loss to the Cubs.
“It’s been like this one week and getting worse, worse, worse,” he said. “So that’s why I decided to stop because my swing is not the same and I don’t want to keep playing like this. Try to get this thing better and try to get back on the field soon.”
Arrieta (10-7) departed after Moncada’s solo shot made it 6-2 with two out in the seventh. The 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner struck out five and walked two while improving to 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA in five July starts.
“When the fastball is going where he want to, he’s going to be successful,” manager Joe Maddon said, “and then off that’s going to be the confidence, then off that you’re going to see the cutter and the curveball working better because he’s just going to be a more confident pitcher.”
Kyle Schwarber singled in Rizzo in the fourth, and the Cubs broke it open with four runs in the fifth at Guaranteed Rate Field.
With no outs and runners on first and second, Sanchez misplayed Kris Bryant’s grounder for an error that loaded the bases. Rizzo followed with a drive to the base of the wall in center, making it 4-0 with a three-run double.
The White Sox traded reliever Anthony Swarzak to the Milwaukee Brewers for minor league outfielder Ryan Cordell. The 25-year-old Cordell, an 11th-round draft pick by Texas in 2013, hit .284 with 10 homers and 45 RBI in 68 games with Triple-A Colorado Springs this year.
Cubs: LHP Brett Anderson (lower back strain) was activated from the 60-day disabled list and designated for assignment. He went 2-2 with an 8.18 ERA in six starts with the Cubs.
White Sox: RHP Jake Petricka was activated from the 10-day DL after being sidelined by a right elbow strain. He also spent time on the disabled list this season with a right lat strain. “Ideally this is the last time we have to go through this,” he said. “It just feels good to be back with the guys.”
Cubs left-hander Jon Lester and White Sox right-hander Mike Pelfrey face off in the series finale. Lester (7-6, 3.95 ERA) is trying for his third straight win since he recorded only two outs in the shortest start of his career July 9 against Pittsburgh. Pelfrey (3-7, 4.46 ERA) is looking for his first victory since he pitched six effective innings in a 5-2 win against Toronto on June 17.
SEATTLE — When Chris Sale woke up Wednesday, he was unaware the Red Sox were on a four-game losing streak.
“I actually fell asleep before the end of it. I woke up this morning and heard the news,” Sale said of Boston’s 13-inning loss the previous night.
Sale was brilliant, pitching seven innings of three-hit ball in a 4-0 win over the Seattle Mariners that featured a home run by 20-year-old Rafael Devers , who became the youngest Boston player to hit a home run in more than 50 years.
Sale headed back to the team hotel early on Tuesday night to be rested for a day game. He didn’t know about Seattle’s two-run rally in the 13th inning, shortly after midnight.
About 12 hours later, the Red Sox got exactly what they needed from their ace to avoid being swept. He struck out 11 , the 14th time this season he reached double digits. Sale cheap jerseys authentic allowed doubles to Jean Segura and Guillermo Heredia, and a broken-bat single to Ben Gamel, but none of the three to reach base via hit ever advanced.
“It’s deception, it’s angle. He does a lot of things well,” Gamel said.
Sale (13-4) has struck out at least nine batters in each of his 12 road starts this season, the longest streak dating to 1913. He’s won five of his last six decisions and became the first AL pitcher with 13 wins.
In two starts on Boston’s trip, Sale allowed seven hits in 13 innings and struck out 20.
“We’re watching one of the better years ever pitched by a major league pitcher in the American League,” Boston manager John Farrell said. “We’re fortunate it’s in our uniform.”
A day after his major league debut, Devers led off the third inning by sending a 2-1 fastball from starter Andrew Moore out to center field for his first hit in the majors. At 20 years and 275 days old, Devers was the youngest Red Sox player to homer since Tony Conigliaro in September 1965. Devers added a single in the seventh inning.
“It was surreal. When I got back to the dugout I could barely walk to be honest with you,” Devers said through an interpreter. “I was just so happy about it. It was just a good moment.”
Moore (1-3) was solid, but the long ball was his problem. Along with Devers’ shot, Moore gave up a two-out, two-run homer to Sandy Leon in the fourth inning. Moore hung a 1-2 curveball and Leon hit his sixth homer of the season. Moore was able to save Seattle’s bullpen by lasting 6 2/3 innings.
“He’s learning. Certainly, I like his competitiveness. He just didn’t have that pitch to finish them today and the home run ball got him,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said of Moore. “I do like the way he’s able to make adjustments in-game, he’s done that a number of times.”