Eduardo Nuñez isn’t just about the bunt.
One day after laying down a first-inning bunt against CC Sabathia that inspired rage from the lefthander and debate between ancient rivals, the Red Sox infielder changed the direction of Friday night’s game with a two-run homer that erased a one-run deficit and helped Boston to a 4-1 win at the Stadium.
Nuñez came up in the third inning after Brock Holt drew a one-out walk from Sonny Gray. The former Yankee battled to a 2-and-2 count before getting a 92-mph two-seam fastball from the righthander. He hit a laser that just cleared the leftfield fence.
When asked about Thursday night’s bunt, Nuñez said, “That’s my game.” He wasn’t backing off even after the home run.
“I think the ball just flies today. I put a good swing on the ball and it just happened,” he said. “I am not looking for power. I just put a good swing on the ball. I don’t want to change my game. I know I don’t have good power like Aaron Judge has.”
Maybe so, but that hasn’t been the case since Boston acquired him in a trade with San Francisco on July 25. He is hitting .313 with eight home runs and 24 RBIs in 31 games.
“I don’t think we anticipated [his power] to this extent,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “We knew he was a hard line-drive, doubles type of hitter. But he’s been able to catch some pitches out front. And they’ve been big home runs, if you look at their impact on the game.
“He’s fit in extremely well, a good guy in the clubhouse, a very good fit for this club.”
Asked to explain bunting on Thursday, Nuñez said, “We don’t have anyone who has 30 homers or 100 RBIs. We play smart. We play the little game. That’s our game.”
It wasn’t Friday night, though. Though the Red Sox began the game last in the American League in home runs, they scored all of their runs via the long ball. Andrew Benintendi homered in the fifth and Hanley Ramirez sent a drive into the Yankees’ bullpen in the seventh. In eight games at Yankee Stadium this season, Benintendi has hit .393 with five home runs and 12 RBIs.
Nuñez clearly is happy about the contribution he’s been making for Boston and said, “That’s why they got me: to do all I can to win.”
He said even though he was dealt into a playoff chase, he hasn’t felt pressure about producing.
“They trust and believe in what I can do for this team in a lot of different ways — my speed, my offense, whatever they need,” Nuñez said. “I appreciate they see that.”