Rafael Devers keeps dominating Gerrit Cole in Red Sox-Yankees rivalry.
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It seems appropriate Gerrit Cole’s first loss occurred in the first instance he got to face Rafael Devers.

No matter how well Cole is doing or how Devers may be struggling, the narrative within the context of the Yankees Red Sox-Yankees rivalry that may or may have not lost its buzz is about Cole being owned by Devers.

Within the context of overall at-bats it might seem like Devers is Cole’s kryptonite. After all, Devers is 9-for-33 against Cole, a number that translates to a .272 average after it was .233 (7-for-30) at around 7 pm Friday. Then pull away the overall picture and see that six of those hits are homers.

Last year Cole got dinged for a Devers homer on the second batter he faced of the season. Then he gave up two more at Fenway Park on July 7 during a frustrating split of a four-game series and although those occurred in a Yankee win, Cole was visibly frustrated at the time.

“I’m open for suggestions,” Cole said a little over 11 months ago. “It’s pretty wild. He’s just been able to hit every(thing), there hasn’t been a miss-hit. Like, roll over one time. Like, line out one time.

“You’re supposed to fail seven out of 10 times in this gig. I don’t know what the deal is,” he said. “We’ll just have to just keep at it, man.”

Ten days later in New York in a game when Chris Sale broke his pinkie, he brushed back Devers and the third baseman went hitless. It hardly restored Cole’s confidence about his encounters with Devers as he said the following:

“I don’t think I figured him out,” Cole. “I think I just executed the pitches that I wanted to execute today, and I think we sequenced better than we did last time.”

During last fall’s four-game series as the focus was on Aaron Judge’s home run chase, Cole quieted Devers, temporarily putting the narrative on the backburner.

Fast forward to Friday in the first of the 13-game season series, the narrative about Cole being owned by Devers returned. In the first inning, Cole got Devers to lineout on a cutter but in the next two at-bats the domination made an appearance.

Devers doubled on a changeup in his second at-bat and then kind of reached over to get another changeup in his third at-bat. When Devers leaned over, the ball landed 405 feet away in the Red Sox bullpen for yet another homer.

“They paid him 300 million for a reason,” Cole said. “He’s a good player man. I haven’t come across any other player like him.

As for Devers, his take was one of modesty when he spoke through an interpreter by saying: “Cole is not an easy pitcher to face. To be honest with you. I’m glad to be able to hit him.”

The latest installment of Devers owning Cole came as manager Alex Cora had to clarify some comments about the third baseman’s health. On a radio spot with WEEI Cora described Devers as being “banged up” before clarifying that Devers was fine.

On Friday, Cora was more than excited to discuss Devers, who has 20 career homers against the Yankees and 10 in Yankee Stadium, including his memorable homer off Aroldis Chapman in 2017 that occurred on a 103-mph fastball.

“With special players, it’s just a matter of time,” said Cora said. “I don’t think the spotlight has anything to do with it. It starts with the walks. He’s been patient. He’s seen a lot of pitches lately, which is great. He’s a little frustrated because, obviously, although he hates to say it, he knows the offense (revolves) around him.

Every pitcher has someone who can be classified as their nemesis. An example in Yankee history might be some of the names who did well against Whitey Ford, the all-time win leader in team history.

That list includes Jerry Adair going 25-for-65 (.365), Rocky Bridges going 11-for-31 (.355), Joe DeMaestri 19-for-61 (.311), Bill Freehan going 12-for-34 (.353) and Hall of Famer Al Kaline 38-for-112 (.339).

In terms of Ron Guidry, whom Cole shares the team record for double-digit strikeout games after getting his 23rd such game April 16, he has his share of opponents of differing careers to succeed against him.

Some of the names to do really well against Guidry include Bob Bailor (11-for-30), George Bell (13-for-35), Bruce Botche (10-for-29). Guidry also had trouble with a few Hall of Famers as Wade Boggs went 14-for-44 in their matchups while George Brett was 18-for-56 and Cal Ripken Jr. was 12-for-31. Others include Brett Butler being 13-for-30 off Guidry while Scott Fletcher was 12-for-31 and Julio Franco was 14-for-37.

Dominating a pitcher can come in all shapes and forms from Hall of Famers to non All-Stars. Sometimes it’s just one of those things leaving the pitcher searching for answers and the hitters appreciative of the success off a standout pitcher.

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