Devers hits 2 HR; Red Sox to host Yanks in AL wild-card game

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Boston Red Sox clinched a playoff berth on the regular season’s final day and will host the New York Yankees in the AL wild-card game after coming back to beat the Washington Nationals 7-5 on a tiebreaking two-run homer by Rafael Devers in the ninth inning Sunday.

Devers’ second homer of the game — and 38th of the season — came on a drive to straightaway center field off Kyle Finnegan on a 2-1 pitch with one out after Kyle Schwarber reached on an error.

It capped a four-hit, four-RBIs afternoon for Devers, brought teammates bounding out of the dugout and prompted chants of “Yankees suck!” from some of Boston’s fans who could be heard throughout much of the afternoon in a crowd of 33,986 at Nationals Park. The home team has been dragging to a last-place finish after shipping away such stars as Max Scherzer and Trea Turner at the trade deadline.

Eduardo Rodriguez (13-8), who started and won at Washington on Friday night, threw a perfect eighth to get the win Sunday. Nick Pivetta, a starter who pitched Thursday, came on for the ninth inning and collected his first save since 2019, striking out Juan Soto to end it.

Finnegan (5-9) entered in the ninth for Washington.

One bit of negative news for Boston: Slugger J.D. Martinez left in the sixth inning with a sprained left ankle.

Boston and New York will meet Tuesday to determine which of the rivals takes on the AL East champion Tampa Bay Rays in a division series. The Red Sox and Yankees entered the day tied at 91-70, one game ahead of both the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners. New York edged Tampa Bay on Sunday 1-0. Boston won the series series from the Yankees 10-9.

There were all sorts of possible outcomes when all four of those clubs began play at around 3 p.m. ET, but the simplest was this: If the Red Sox beat the Nationals, who entered the game last in the NL East, Fenway Park would be the site of the AL wild-card game, no matter what else happened Sunday.

That didn’t look like such a sure thing early: Boston fell behind 5-1, thanks in part to a shaky start by ace Chris Sale, who went just 2 1/3 innings and was pulled after walking Ryan Zimmerman with the bases full to force in a run.

Devers led off the fourth with a drive off a 1-2 fastball from Joan Adon, a 23-year-old right-hander who struck out nine batters in 5 1/3 innings in his major league debut.

Devers added an RBI single off Erick Fedde in the seventh that brought the visitors within 5-3, and Alex Verdugo’s two-run double that inning tied it at 5.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Red Sox: Martinez is usually a designated hitter but was playing right field in an NL park. … RHP Garrett Whitlock was reinstated from the 10-day injured list after being out with a strained right pectoral muscle; he pitched the seventh Sunday. … RHP Eduard Bazardo was optioned to Triple-A Worcester.

Nationals: INF Luis García went on the 10-day IL to make room on the roster for Adon. The 21-year-old Garcia hit .242 with six homers and 22 RBIs in 70 games this season.

STRASBURG’S RECOVERY

Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg (neck) will start throwing at the start of November as he returns from thoracic outlet surgery in late July and the team’s “expectation is that he’s going to be pitching to prepare for the … beginning of the season,” GM Mike Rizzo said. Strasburg only has appeared in a total of 26 2/3 innings in 2020 and 2021 after winning 2019 World Series MVP honors.

ZIM’S FAREWELL?

Zimmerman, who turned 37 on Tuesday, says he hasn’t made up his mind whether he’ll retire or be back in 2022. But when the first draft pick in Nationals history, and owner of most of the team’s significant career hitting records, stepped to the plate in the second inning for his initial at-bat Sunday, the crowd greeted him with a loud and lengthy standing ovation. Then, in the top of the eighth, he was removed from the game to another ovation, got a slow procession of hugs from teammates and manager Davey Martinez, blew a kiss toward his wife, Heather, who was in the stands, and patted his chest. When Alex Avila, 34, left in the top of the eighth, removed after taking the field with his full catcher’s gear, he also was embraced by other Nationals players and Martinez and saluted by the crowd. Avila has announced he is retiring after 11 seasons in the majors.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: Host the Yankees and Gerrit Cole (16-8) on Tuesday night.

Nationals: Missing playoffs for second year in a row.

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © 2021 . All rights reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Comments

Sign up for breaking news alerts