Rafael Devers singled through the open shortstop area with the infield shifted to the right side, driving in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning Tuesday as the Boston Red Sox overcame a three-run deficit to beat the Detroit Tigers 5-3.
"Teams are going to attack him a certain way and he feels like he has to swing hard. It's the other way around," Boston manager Alex Cora said. "Just take what they give you. That's the mark of a professional hitter."
Garrett Whitlock (1-0) pitched four hitless innings to win in his first appearance since the Red Sox announced his $18.75 million, four-year contract on Sunday.
Hirokazu Sawamura also got two outs in hitless relief of starter Rich Hill, who allowed three runs and five hits in 4 1/3 innings.
Cora ideally wanted Hill to go five innings and have Whitlock pitch the last four. The plan almost worked to perfection.
"They're going to load up with righties against Rich," Cora said. "He can get them out and then we can turn the page to Whitlock. We get a lot of good matchups from that. They complement each other well. It's a good plan, it's just a matter of how long we can do it."
Whitlock allowed just one baserunner, on a sixth-inning walk to Jeimer Candelario, in an efficient 39-pitch outing.
"Rich pitched amazing, did an absolutely wonderful job," Whitlock said.
Boston, which has not been above .500, improved to 2-3.
Devers had a pair of RBI singles, raising his average to .381, and Kiké Hernández doubled twice for the Red Sox.
Detroit's Spencer Torkelson, the top pick of the 2020 amateur draft, doubled in the third inning for his first big league hit after an 0-for-10 start. The ball dropped in right-center, 309 feet from the plate, in front of the glove of diving right fielder Christian Arroyo.
"It's something I've looked forward to for a long time," Torkelson said. "For it to finally happen, it's special. The baseball gods tested me out a little bit, just seeing what I was made of. You've just got to persevere, trust yourself and the hits will come."
Detroit took a 3-0 lead in the third when Torkelson scored on Robbie Grossman's groundout, Jonathan Schoop followed with a run-scoring single and Javier Báez added an RBI double.
Hernandez hit an RBI double in the sixth and scored on a single by Devers that chased Tyler Alexander, who gave up five hits in 5 1/3 innings. J.D. Martinez tied the score against Jacob Barnes when he sliced an opposite-field double off the foul line in deep right field, a call upheld in a video review.
Hernandez walked against Alex Lange (0-1) leading off the eighth and advanced on a wild pitch. Arroyo added a two-out RBI single off Will Vest.
"They did a good job with their at-bats as the game went along," Detroit manager A.J. Hinch said. "They had tougher at-bats and we didn't execute quite as well as the game went on."
Red Sox: 2B Trevor Story (illness) didn't start for the third consecutive game. "Hopefully tomorrow," Cora said. "We're not going to be stupid about it."
Tigers: Grossman left after the sixth inning due to right groin tightness.
Red Sox: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (0-0, 5.40 ERA) allowed three runs on five hits in five innings while striking out seven New York Yankees in his season debut on Friday. He has a 2-0 record and 3.86 ERA in four starts against Detroit.
Tigers: Eduardo Rodríguez is scheduled to start against his former team in the three-game series finale on Wednesday. Rodriguez had a 64-39 record in 159 appearances with Boston before signing a $77 million, five-year contract with Detroit as a free agent. "All in all, I'm going to enjoy having the opportunity to face my old teammates." Rodriguez gave up three runs and four hits in four innings against the Chicago White Sox in his Tigers debut.
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