Eduardo Nunez won’t be the Yankees starting shortstop much longer, and he knows that. Best-case scenario is that he’ll be in the lineup two more days. If he’s playing much longer than that, something’s gone wrong with Derek Jeter’s rehab.
“I’m Eduardo Nunez, I’m not Derek Jeter,” Nunez said. “He’s a Hall of Famer. I’m this young guy. I have to learn a lot and do my best… I know he’s coming back, but I play hard, and one time my moment is coming to play every day. These two weeks have been an opportunity for me to show my manager, my staff and everybody that I can play (every day) one day in my career.”
Nunez made this team because of his bat, and after tonight’s 4-for-4, he’s hitting .309 as Jeter’s replacement. The eighth-inning insurance run he drove in gave the Yankees some breathing room on a night they seemed to hold their breath a lot.
The obvious knock on Nunez is his defense. He has a strong arm and plenty of range, but he’s showing some of the inconsistency that you might expect, but not necessarily like, from a young player. Tonight, his biggest throw was a good one. After dropping a throw from Curtis Granderson, then losing track of how far away the ball had rolled, Nunez saw Jose Reyes break for third base and fired a strike to Alex Rodriguez.
The throw beat Reyes, and that’s why the Yankees got the call. Rodriguez thought he got Reyes’ jersey. Reyes thought Rodriguez missed him altogether. Jerry Layne made the call, and Nunez had squashed the Mets last chance to get back in the game.
“He belongs here,” Mark Teixeira said. “He’s a guy that’s going to play in this game a long time, and he’s showing with this stretch here, these past couple of weeks, that he can play at this level.”
Said Joe Girardi: “When you have guys go down, a lot of times it’s kids who have a chance to step up. And he’s stepped up big time.”
I messed up while recording Nunez, but here’s Girardi’s postgame interview. Nunez actually did his interview in the press conference room, and let out a sigh of relief when it was over. He did a nice job, though. Handled himself really well in there.
The Reyes play at third base will probably be the most talked about play of this game. Nunez said the throw from Granderson was “a good sinker” and he lost track of the ball a little bit after it bounced away.
Jose Reyes: “I thought I had a good chance to make it to third base, that’s why I went there. He called me out. That’s part of the game… (The umpire) was running to third base. I don’t know if he got a good view. I thought I got there safe but he called me out.”
Eduardo Nunez: “I think we have the play very close and have to throw perfect. I did my best.”
Alex Rodriguez: “I think I just touched a little bit of his sleeve. I saw the replay three or four times and I couldn’t even tell then… I wasn’t sure. I thought I got a little bit of the sleeve. Whether I did or not, you guys had a better view than I did.”
Umpire Jerry Layne: “You see what it is. It was a close play at third base, and I’m not going to comment about the ejection. I had him tagging him, you know, on the side by the belt/buttocks area for an out… I called what I saw.”
• Ivan Nova had runners on base all night, but got away with one run in five innings. His strikeout of Angel Pagan with the bases loaded in the fifth was arguably the most important at-bat of the night. “He was in trouble his share tonight,” Joe Girardi said. “But he did a good job making big pitches when he had to.”
• Girardi said Nova was going to pitch one more inning at the most, and when he had a chance to break the game open in the top of the sixth, he decided to go to the pinch hitter. He said he also liked the matchup of Luis Ayala against the bottom of the Mets order.
• Why go to right-hander Cory Wade to replace right-hander Ayala when Lucas Duda pinch hit in the sixth? “Ayala is more of a sinkerballer,” Girardi said. “You think about left-handed hitters, a lot of times they’re low-ball hitters. He has the curveball and changeup, where Ayala has the slider. They’re just two different guys, and htat’s why I like him in that situaton.”
• Ultimately, I have no idea why Girardi decided to let Boone Logan bunt for himself in the eighth inning, but it worked.
• Robinson Cano didn’t score on a Nunez single that dropped between players in the sixth inning. Girardi said Cano couldn’t tell whether it was caught, and since he wasn’t sure, he retreated. It was easy to see third base coach Rob Thomson waving him home. “It’s a tough read for Robbie,” Girardi said. “If you make the wrong read and he catches it, you’re out. If you make the wrong read and he doesn’t catch it, you’ve still got another shot.”
• Girardi said he was hoping to not use Mariano Rivera tonight, but with the top of the order coming up, he didn’t want to take any chances. “That situation with what’s coming up in the order with Beltran and Murphy, I wasn’t going to mess around,” Girardi said.
• Four scoreless innings from the bullpen, including key outs from Cory Wade and Boone Logan. “It makes it easier for us now that we have an idea exactly what we have,” Girardi said. “In the beginning when we were calling people up, you had to learn them as quick as possible and try to figure out which situations they’re most capable of being successful, but we’ve had them a little while and it definitely helps out to have that little background when you’re bringing them in.”
• Nick Swisher has a season-best eight-game hitting streak. He’s hitting .379 during the streak.
• Hard to imagine Rodriguez’s ninth-inning double staying in the park at any other stadium. “I wasn’t sure, but I thought it was (gone),” Rodriguez said.
• Brian Cashman said before the game that it’s unlikely Jeter will play the full nine innings tomorrow.
• Cashman also said Rafael Soriano threw a 32-fastball bullpen and could be back the first series after the all-star break — that’s best-case scenario — but Eric Chavez had a mild setback with a strain in his back. He’s eligible to be back next week, but Cashman said that probably won’t happen.
Associated Press photos, unfortunately there weren’t any good ones of Nunez tonight so we’re leading off with a shot of Granderson