BOSTON -- It may not have been the way the Red Sox envisioned their season ending, but Monday's 5-4 loss to the Astros in Game 4 of the American League Division Series presented by Doosan showed the club's bright future.
That was especially apparent when Rafael Devers stepped to the plate with the Red Sox losing, 5-3, in the bottom of the ninth inning. Devers belted an 0-2 pitch off of the Green Monster in left-center field that rolled far away from center fielder George Springer.
Seeing the opening, Devers sprinted around the bases and was waved home by third-base coach Brian Butterfield for the first inside-the-park homer by a Red Sox player in a postseason game at Fenway Park. It was the first inside-the-park home run in the postseason since Alcides Escobar hit one to lead off the bottom half of the first inning in Game 1 of the 2015 World Series.
"Just looking at Butter, the third-base coach, he was waving me around and then I figured that I'd be able to score," said Devers. "And then when I looked back and saw that no one was really near the ball, that I was going standing up, then I knew I was going to get there."
Devers was the hero in Game 3, hitting a go-ahead homer against Francisco Liriano in the Red Sox's 10-3 win, and his inside-the-parker in Game 4 was the 17th inside-the-park home run in postseason history.
"The leadoff inside-the-park home run put this place on fire," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "This is a loud stadium to play at. Boston fans know baseball and they know how to get excited."
That home run got the fans on their feet and every Red Sox player on the top step of the dugout put Fenway into a frenzy.
"You've got to think you're going to tie it, at least. You've got to stay positive," Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts said. "That made the game much more exciting for us and the fans. We definitely gave them a show. We did the best we could."
While the Red Sox couldn't score another run to extend game and the ALDS, Devers finished 4-for-11 with two home runs and five RBIs. Factoring in the homer in Game 3, he became the only other AL player to homer in consecutive postseason games before turning 21 years old. The other two are Mickey Mantle in 1952 and Jimmie Foxx in 1929.
"It's a great feeling for me, but at the end of the day, I'm just focused on giving 100 percent of myself when I go out there," Devers said. "I think every at-bat, with every swing that I take, I try to give 100 percent. Yeah, I'm one of the few that have done it. That's cool. I'm going to take that and be proud of it."
Devers made a splash immediately when he was called up from Triple-A Pawtucket on July 26 to play third base. One of his biggest hits of the season came on a ninth inning, game-tying home run off Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman on Aug. 13. Devers finished the regular season hitting .284 with 10 home runs and 30 RBIs in 58 games.
After Monday's hitting display, he left many wondering what's in store for 2018.
Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com based in Boston. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.