Yankees continuing to challenge Rafael Devers reached new level of lunacy Sunday

We get it! He can mash a fastball! Now, work on avoiding it.
Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees
Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees / Adam Hunger/GettyImages

For 20 years running, the Boston Red Sox have employed perhaps the game's two greatest Yankee Killers in David Ortiz, then Rafael Devers. Since 2003, there have only been a gleeful 104 games of the 2017 season (prior to Devers' promotion) where neither one has been present.

In that same span of time, the New York Yankees have somehow run out a grand total of zero Red Sox killers of any kind. In fact, they've employed a couple of Red Sox revivers, instead.

Any Yankee who's faced Devers since he was promoted to the big (Gerrit Cole especially) might as well have been designed in a lab to ignite him. It doesn't matter the pitch. It doesn't matter the situation. He's solved the Rubik's Cube before you ever hand it over, and he's ready to pounce. It's only worsened lately. While the Yankees used to be able to retire him occasionally, the degree of his ownership has gotten positively ridiculous in recent years, a fact he cemented by punishing both the starter and a reliever in the seventh and ninth innings of a 3-0 Red Sox win on Sunday night.

Yankees have redefined insanity by pitching to Rafael Devers

Oh, and he also made a Gold Glove-level defensive play on a DJ LeMahieu hopper. See, he rises to the occasion when his chief rival is on the other side of the diamond. Might be worth Aaron Judge checking in to see how he does it at the All-Star Game next week.

Second-guess Aaron Boone for leaving in a dominant (to that point) Luis Gil all you want, but you know you'd be screaming in the other direction if he'd pulled him early, allowing Luke Weaver to surrender the inevitable Devers bomb. It's not like Weaver is bomb-averse; he allowed a home run to Ceddanne Rafaela a few moments later. That's what happens when you play the first half with two viable relievers.

Boone's individual decisions haven't been nearly as bad as whatever malaise he continues to cast over this team when things begin to spiral. Suddenly, everything is wrong, and it's occurred three consecutive years under his watch. Continuing to attack Devers (because of some kind of machismo?) rather than playing smart is a prime symptom of this dysfunction.

He can wait on a changeup. He can smash a high fastball. Thanks to Michael Tonkin in the eighth, we now know he can take a tailing fastball a foot outside and pull it 420 feet out of the ballpark. Nobody can do that, but he can. Giving him repeated attempts to beat you is a fool's errand, and these Yankees have made themselves fools more often than anyone thought possible.

Remember how many times Manny Ramirez came through with back-breaking homers against the Yankees? He's four-upped Manny. FOUR-UPPED MANNY! And that's just on the road.

Cole, especially, is a cerebral enough pitcher that it's almost unfathomable he's allowed this narrative to take hold, facilitating Devers' ownership by desperately trying to solve an unsolvable problem rather than playing it coolly.

For a brief moment in time, Devers' slow home run trot -- mocking Alex Verdugo's similar jaunt -- seemed to wake up the Yankees on Saturday afternoon, resulting in a seven-run response inning in a 14-4 victory. Great Yankee teams of the past would've used that as a turning point, vowing not to let Devers have another moment while Gil breathed smoke past the rest of the roster and the offense wore out Kutter Crawford's nibbling. Instead, they laid down, dominated by Crawford, while the Yankees allowed themselves to be beaten twice more with the bat, and once with the glove, by their never-sweating nemesis.

This is, quite obviously, not a great Yankee team. It's not a smart one, either.