Eduardo Nunez returned to the lineup for the New York Yankees on Saturday and displayed the skill set that Yankees fans had hoped to see all year.
With Derek Jeter starting the year on the disabled list, Nunez began the year as the starting shortstop. However, injuries sidelined him a couple times in April and a strained ribcage eventually sent him to the 60-day DL on May 6. Jayson Nix has filled in admirably, but a hamstring injury opened the door for Nunez, who was rehabbing in the minors.
Not only was Nunez back in New York today, but he was in the starting lineup. Batting eighth, Nunez had an extremely productive afternoon in the Yankees’ 5-4 victory over the Baltimore Orioles. The win vaulted the Yankees ahead of the Orioles into the second Wild Card spot.
In his first at-bat back, he lifted a sacrifice fly to left field, cutting the Yankee deficit to 3-2. Then, leading off the fifth, he rifled a fastball to the opposite field for a base hit. He later came around to score, cutting the Orioles lead to 4-3.
Finally, he gave the Yankees a lead they wouldn’t relinquish when he drove a ground ball up the middle to score Lyle Overbay, giving the Yankees a 5-4 lead in the sixth inning.
He was also at the center of a crucial defensive play, helping to turn a double play in the bottom of the eighth inning to get David Robertson out of some trouble. It was the type of play Nunez showed flashes of earlier in his career.
With Jeter’s return on the horizon, it’s hard to know what role Nunez will play moving forward, but if he keeps playing like he did today, it will be hard for the Yankees to send him down.
B.L. is a sports writer for Rant Sports and can be followed on Twitter @coachlip.