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

Oct 3, 2021, 3:59 AM | Updated: 5:51 pm
Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Nick Pivetta reacts at the end of a baseball game against the Washi...

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Nick Pivetta reacts at the end of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rafael Devers and the rest of the Boston Red Sox knew going into the regular season’s final day that they were in a win-and-in scenario for the playoffs.

That didn’t make Devers nervous Sunday, even after his club fell behind against the Washington Nationals — and it didn’t stop Boston manager Alex Cora from keeping an eye on the other relevant games.

“It was a tough one, too,” Cora said, “just watching the scoreboard.”

Cora’s return to the job after a one-year suspension will carry into the postseason because Boston earned the right to host the New York Yankees in the AL wild-card game after coming back to beat Washington 7-5 on a tiebreaking two-run shot by Devers in the ninth inning, his second homer Sunday.

“I know that nobody believed in us at the beginning of the season,” Devers, goggles perched atop his head for the playoff-clinching festivities, said through an interpreter. “This is just our first celebration.”

His 38th homer of the season — on a drive to straightaway center off Kyle Finnegan on a 2-1 pitch with one out after Kyle Schwarber reached on an error — 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.

When it ended, some of those spectators hung around to cheer as Red Sox players gathered in shallow left field for a team picture, wearing blue T-shirts saying, “Built for October.”

“There’s work to do, still,” Cora said.

One bit of negative news for Boston: Slugger J.D. Martinez left in the sixth inning with a sprained left ankle after stumbling over a base while heading out to play right field for the fifth. Cora said Martinez’s availability for Tuesday was unclear and more will be known Monday.

Cora marveled at Devers’ demeanor — in the clubhouse before the game, when he was playing cards and made a friendly wager with his skipper about a Premier League soccer game, and with a bat in his hands up at the plate.

“He’s able to slow it down. And he enjoys it, too,” Cora said. “He was so relaxed. so calm. … He had two good pitches to hit and he didn’t try to do too much.”

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 and forcing 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 in 5 1/3 innings in his major league debut.

Eduardo Rodriguez (13-8) threw a perfect eighth to get the win. Another starter, Nick Pivetta, collected his first save since 2019, striking out Juan Soto to end it.

Finnegan (5-9) entered in the ninth for Washington, which dragged to a last-place finish after shipping away such stars as Max Scherzer and Trea Turner at the trade deadline.

“Bummed. Obviously, you grind out this whole year for one expectation and that’s to get to the playoffs and World Series. That didn’t happen this year,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said after his team finished 65-97. “We’re going to get better. We’re going to get better really quick.”

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, so there were plenty of possible scenarios. New York edged Tampa Bay on Sunday 1-0; Boston won the season series from the Yankees 10-9, so gets to be at home.

“We’ll be ready,” Cora said. “It should be fun.”


Red Sox: RHP Garrett Whitlock was reinstated from the 10-day injured list after being out with a strained right pectoral muscle.

Nationals: INF Luis García went on the 10-day IL to make room on the roster for Adon.


Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg (neck) will begin 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.


Zimmerman, who turned 37 on Tuesday, hasn’t decided whether to retire. He was removed from the game to a standing ovation and a procession of hugs from teammates and Martinez. … C Alex Avila, 34, got a similar send-off. He has announced his retirement.


Red Sox: Send Nathan Eovaldi (11-9) to the mound to face the Yankees and Gerrit Cole (16-8) on Tuesday night.


More AP MLB: and

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - Rihanna attends an event for her lingerie line Savage X Fenty at the Westin Bonaventure Hote...
Associated Press

Rihanna to headline the next Super Bowl halftime show

NEW YORK (AP) — Rihanna will take center stage at February’s Super Bowl halftime show. The singer, who declined to perform in the 2019 Super Bowl halftime show out of solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, will headline the 2023 Super Bowl, the NFL announced Sunday along with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and Apple Music. Rihanna posted an […]
13 hours ago
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert throws during the second half of an NFL football ga...
Associated Press

Chargers’ Justin Herbert expected to start despite rib issue

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Quarterback Justin Herbert is expected to start for the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars after being questionable all week due to a rib injury. Herbert fractured rib cartilage on a hard hit from Kansas City defensive lineman Michael Danna during the fourth quarter of a game Sept. […]
13 hours ago
Buffalo Bills linebacker Matt Milano (58) rushes towards Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa ...
Associated Press

Dolphins’ Tagovailoa injures head, stumbles, returns anyway

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa briefly left Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills, returning despite appearing to be disoriented by a head injury. Tagovailoa hit his head on the turf and missed the Dolphins’ last three offensive snaps of the first half, then was back on the field for the start […]
2 days ago
Tennessee running back Jaylen Wright (20) celebrates a touchdown during the second half of the team...
Associated Press

AP Top 25: Vols, Wolfpack join top 10; Florida State returns

Tennessee and North Carolina State broke into the top 10 of The Associated Press college football poll Sunday, and Florida State is back in the rankings for the first time in four years. Georgia remained No. 1 and received 55 of 63 first-place votes in the Top 25, presented by Regions Bank. No. 2 Alabama […]
2 days ago
Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery reacts after being injured during the first half of an ...
Associated Press

Bears RB Montgomery, WR Pringle depart with injuries

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery and wide receiver Byron Pringle left Sunday’s game against Houston because of injuries. Both players got hurt in the first quarter, and the Bears said their return is doubtful. Montgomery’s right leg got twisted under him while he was blocking on a pass play. He walked […]
2 days ago
Team Europe's Roger Federer, center, looks at Andy Murray, left, and Matteo Berrettini during a mat...
Associated Press

Analysis: Think of Federer’s Laver Cup as an All-Star affair

LONDON (AP) — Roger Federer is, by his own admission, a jokester. A couple of his Laver Cup teammates would agree. Stefanos Tsitsipas, the 2021 French Open runner-up, described the 20-time Grand Slam champion as “goofy and giggling” in the locker room during the three-day affair that finished Sunday and amounted to a celebration of […]
2 days ago
Devers hits 2 HR; Red Sox to host Yanks in AL wild-card game