Bartolo Colon

Jim Cowsert/USA Today Sports

Red Sox 5, Rangers 1: Rafael Devers thrilled to hit two homers off childhood hero Bartolo Colon

John Tomase
May 04, 2018 - 11:09 pm

On the day Bartolo Colon made his big league debut in 1997, Rafael Devers wasn't quite six months old. When Colon made his first All-Star team, Devers had just learned to walk. When Colon won the AL Cy Young Award in 2005, Devers was not yet 10.

And so it went that the oldest player in the leagues faced one of the youngest on Friday in Texas. And with two swings, youth prevailed.

Devers grew up in the Dominican Republic admiring Colon, and before the game labeled him a "superstar." So it was undoubtedly a thrill to admire the two homers he blasted into the Texas night during a 5-1 victory.

"Yeah, it was important for me – it was important for my career, I would say, to get the chance to face somebody like that," Devers said. "I just came into the league last year and I wasn’t able to be teammates with David Ortiz but he’s also the guy that I looked up to and Bartolo is another one of those guys, so that’s why it was important."

Colon once threw 98 mph, but those days are long gone and hard to find. The 285-pounder -- and that's probably selling him short -- entered Friday's matchup in the midst of an outstanding season. The 44-year-old was 1-0 with a 2.87 ERA and a league-low three walks in 31 1/3 innings.

He beguiled the Red Sox with a series of tantalizing 88 mph two-seam fastballs and changeups, but he made four mistakes, and all of them left the park. In addition to the two solo shots by Devers, J.D. Martinez hit one out, and so did the rampaging Mookie Betts, who briefly surrendered sole possession of the MLB home run lead when Washington's Bryce Harper hit his second of the night, only for Betts to reclaim it with homer No. 13.

The Red Sox have come to expect such performances from Betts, who's off to one of the hottest starts in team history. What we're still unsure of is the impact Devers will make.

He ranks second on the club with 35 strikeouts, one behind Martinez. His OPS had dropped nearly 150 points over the last two weeks, but he ripped two doubles on May 1 and added the two homers on Friday to push his average back up to .276 and his OPS to .814. He now has six homers.

A Red Sox lineup with Devers providing power becomes a lot deeper. For all the talk of the struggles of the 7-8-9 hitters, Devers has provided production out of the six-hole. In 15 games there, he's hitting .350 with five home runs and 16 RBIs. His overall numbers have suffered thanks largely to the .205 average he produced in 10 games batting fifth.

Devers and Co. weren't the only standouts. Starter Rick Porcello was once again dominant en route to a perfect 5-0 start. He allowed three hits and a run in six innings, striking out eight. The lone blemish on his night was a solo homer by the red-hot Nomar Mazara. It was only the second homer Porcello has surrendered all year after allowing a league-worst 38 in 2017.

Rob Bradford contributed to this report from Arlington, Texas.

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