Sunday night in the Bronx the Boston Red Sox entered the top of the ninth inning in their game against their rivals, the New York Yankees, down one run.
The two teams were both scoreless through four innings when the Red Sox started off the scoring with one in the top of the fifth. The Yankees answered right back with a run of their own in the bottom of the fifth. They added on a run in the bottom of the eighth making the score 2-to-1 in favor of New York.
The Yankees were likely very confident going into the top of the ninth with closer Aroldis Chapman coming in to finish the game, intending to send the Red Sox home with a loss.
Yet, things went a bit differently than expected, very differently in fact.
After Chapman struck out Manny Ramirez swinging, left-handed hitting rookie Rafael Devers stepped up to the plate. With the count one ball and two strikes, Chapman threw a pitch that registered 102.8 MPH.
Devers then did what no one else has done since the 2016 MLB postseason, at least against Chapman. He took him deep to left-center field for a game tying home run.
While hitting a home run off of Chapman is a spectacular feat for any player, and the Red Sox did go on to score a run in the top of the tenth inning that won the game for Boston as the Yankees could not mount a comeback in the bottom half of the inning, Devers’ home run is particularly incredible.
To begin with, Chapman is a 29-year-old veteran, a four-time All-Star and he has a World Series ring that he won as part of the 2016 reigning World Champion Chicago Cubs.
Rafael Devers was born in 1996 and is just 20 years old. He is the youngest player on the Red Sox roster and he is the youngest player to ever homer off of Chapman. It doesn’t appear that there could be more outstanding statistics and facts surrounding this situation but, upon review, things do get even more interesting.
Devers is just the second lefty to ever hit a home run off of Chapman in his eight-year MLB career. The first (and only other) left-handed batter to homer off of Chapman was Luke Scott of the Baltimore Orioles back in 2011.
Now we bring in Statcast, which first debuted in 2008. Statcast measures everything from the speed of the pitch to the balls trajectory, exit velocity and more. Chapman is one of, if not the, hardest throwers in the game today. His 102.8 MPH pitch was the fastest pitch to ever be hit for a home run in the Statcast Era. And it was off the bat of a 20-year-old rookie who very recently made his big league debut.
Devers debuted on July 25. Prior to Sunday’s game, Devers had played in just 14 major league games. In his 15 total big league appearances he has 19 hits, 10 RBI and is batting.328/.391/.586 with an OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of.977. If his time in the big leagues thus far is any indication, the kid could have a very bright future ahead of him.
[Featured Image by Rich Schultz/Getty Images]