Nunez: 'I think I'm gonna be better'

May, 1, 2012
5/01/12
11:44
PM ET
Eduardo Nunez has turned into must-see TV whenever he plays the field -- but it's often painful to watch for Yankees fans.

Nunez, who made 20 errors in 112 games last season as a utility infielder, made his third error of 2012 on Tuesday night, and it cost the Yankees dearly.

With runners on first and third and two outs in the top of the sixth inning, the Orioles' Nick Johnson hit a relatively soft line drive to left field, which should have been caught to end the inning with the Yankees trailing only 4-1.

Instead, Nunez misjudged the ball and saw it drop in front of him, allowing both runners to score in what turned out to be a 7-1 Baltimore victory.

"He got a good jump on it, and I think he thought it was gonna go farther than it did," said manager Joe Girardi. "It’s a tough read for a guy who hasn’t been out there a long time."

In fact, it was only Nunez's second career start in left field, after also playing the position in Monday night's 2-1 victory over the O's. With regular left fielder Brett Gardner on the disabled list, it appears Girardi feels comfortable having Nunez learn on the job.

The manager talked before the game about giving Nunez more time in the outfield, even after Gardner returns from the DL. We'll see if that changes after Nunez's miscue on Tuesday night.

"Keep playing hard," said Nunez, when asked what Girardi said to him after the error.

"Sometimes you lose [eye] contact because you haven’t played too many games in left field," Nunez added. "But I think if I can keep practicing like I do, I think I’m gonna be better."

MR .400 (AGAIN): Derek Jeter's batting average climbed back to the .400 mark after his 3-for-5 night on Tuesday.

The Yankees' captain had an infield single in the third inning, a double in the fifth, and a single in the seventh against the Orioles. His average rose from .389 to an even .400. That places him at the top of the American League, and second in all of Major League Baseball, behind only the Dodgers' Matt Kemp (.404).

GRAND POWER: Curtis Granderson accounted for the Yankees' lone run of the night, hitting his ninth home run of the season.

The homer came in the bottom of the first off Brian Matusz, a bomb to right field that hit off the facade at the bottom of the upper deck.

Granderson is tied with the Rangers' Josh Hamilton for the major-league lead in long balls.

ON THE OTHER HAND: The Yankees' No. 4 and No. 5 hitters, Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira, continue to struggle at the plate.

Cano went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts on Tuesday night, dropping his batting average to just .255, with one home run and four RBIs.

Teixeira went 0-for-4 as well, lowering his average to .233 on the season, with three home runs and 12 RBIs.

(And the Orioles' starter on Tuesday night, Matusz, had not won a game since June 6, 2011, having lost his prior 12 decisions.)

The guy batting in front of Cano and Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, hasn't been much better -- A-Rod is currently at .256, with four home runs and 11 RBIs.

"We just gotta get better," Rodriguez said after Tuesday night's loss. "There’s no question in my mind that all three of us are gonna get better.

"I think that Robby’s gonna end up, when it’s all said and done, going for .300, 25-30 [home runs] and 100 RBIs. He’s just too good. And I think Tex and I will also be very productive."

BIG DEBUT: Right-hander D.J. Mitchell made his major-league debut for the Yankees on Tuesday night, pitching the ninth inning.

Mitchell pitched a scoreless frame, giving up a pair of singles, with one strikeout.

The 24-year-old righty was drafted by the Yankees in the 10th round in 2008 out of Clemson. Last season he went 13-9 with a 3.18 ERA in 28 appearances (24 starts) for Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre. He was 2-1 with a 3.13 ERA in four Triple-A starts this season, before being called up on Sunday.
Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Masahiro Tanaka
WINS ERA SO IP
13 2.77 141 136
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Ellsbury .271
HRB. McCann 23
RBIB. McCann 75
RB. Gardner 87
OPSB. Gardner .749
ERAH. Kuroda 3.71
SOH. Kuroda 146