The Yankees sent a parade of former All-Stars to the plate in the eighth inning Tuesday night against the Chicago White Sox. One after another, the big names came through with hits to erase a three-run deficit.
But when the Yankees needed their biggest hit, it was Eduardo Nuñez at the plate. Facing reliever Matt Lindstrom with two outs, Nuñez lined a two-run double down the leftfield line to give the Yankees a 6-4 win. It was the first go-ahead hit in the eighth inning or later in Nuñez's career.
"It was a great comeback," he said. "We all fought together. It was a huge inning."
Nuñez stepped into the batter's box waiting on a sinker in. The first pitch was a slider over the plate and a second slider missed low. With a 1-and-1 count, Nuñez maintained the same approach and jumped on a 96-mph sinker.
The hit capped a five-run rally that helped the Yankees move within two games of the final AL wild-card spot, until Tampa Bay beat the Angels, 7-1, out in Anaheim later Tuesday night.
"Every game is important," Nuñez said. "It's like the playoffs. We don't have a tomorrow. We have to win all these games."
Nuñez played shortstop Tuesday night, which allowed Derek Jeter to DH. The 26-year-old is trying to make up for lost time, since he missed 56 games in the middle of the season with a strained oblique.
The injury prevented Nuñez from taking over at short during Jeter's lengthy absence. He is batting .255 for the season, but is hitting .328 in his last 19 games.
The frequent target of good-natured ribbing from his more-accomplished teammates, Nuñez predicted his big hit would earn him a momentary respite from Jeter's barbs.
"For a couple hours," Nuñez said. "They all laugh at me. They're all over me every day."