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Rafael Devers’ two home runs not enough, Red Sox fall to Indians

August 15, 2017

There’s a good chance the Red Sox’ 7-3 loss Monday night against the Cleveland Indians will be a forgotten one.

Doug Fister isn’t going to get blamed for giving up five runs in 4? innings, not after he had allowed five runs combined over 14 innings in his last two starts. He’s a No. 5 starter. The Red Sox can swallow that.

They scored only three for Fister and left seven men on the bases while going 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. But it’s nothing to panic over, not given the recent surge in offense.

There’s just one way this loss can be a thorn in their side, and that relies on the mental fortitude of a 20-year-old rookie.

Rafael Devers went deep twice. One was a well-struck fastball from Trevor Bauer. He took a nice and easy swing and guided it over the Green Monster in the second inning.

It looked similar to the picturesque homer he cranked Sunday night off a high and inside pitch from the Yankees’ Aroldis Chapman. The triple-digits heater also was guided opposite-field.

That’s a swing that can take the Red Sox far into the postseason.

His second homer Monday night was off a low curve that he pulled over the right field wall. This one came in the fourth inning, and it tied the game at 3-3.

At that point Devers was 3-for-4 with three home runs — two of them of the game-tying variety — in his previous four trips to the plate.

If the glass is half full, Devers’ big night, in which he became the first Red Sox rookie in at least a century to hit his sixth homer by his 16th major league game, will provide plenty of hope.

But if the glass is half empty, the Red Sox offense doing little else in this stand-alone makeup game against a very competitive Indians team may serve as a turning point for Devers’ season.

How can he handle the fact that he and Andrew Benintendi have combined to hit the last six home runs for the Red Sox? Or that Devers and Benintendi have driven in 13 of the last 15 runs that the Red Sox have scored?

There’s always the danger that the offense goes cold and, while relying too much on a pair of rookies, they start swinging for the fences.

Who has screwed up their swing while trying to hit bombs? Xander Bogaerts has. Jackie Bradley Jr., too. Benintendi did it during his college career. In the minors, prospect Michael Chavis has 29 long balls this year and the Red Sox believe it’s because he finally stopped trying to hit home runs.

This is why there was so much talk about the Red Sox needing a power bat at the deadline.

Really, it should have been in the offseason.

But the Sox passed on Edwin Encarnacion, who was bought at a bargain contract of just three years, $65 million and an option for a fourth year at $20 million (with a $5 million buyout). Instead the Sox signed Mitch Moreland to replace David Ortiz.

Encarnacion was the difference in Monday night’s loss. With the score tied, he hit a two-run jack off Fister in the fifth inning, then another two-run home run in the sixth inning, this one coming against Heath Hembree.

Encarnacion has 26 homers on the year.

If things go well, this is just another loss amidst a long season.

It can be forgotten, as long as the Red Sox offense doesn’t suddenly go dry.