Eduardo Nunez picked the perfect time to come up with his first hit in the Major Leauges.
Nunez, who was called up to the Yankees from Triple-A Scranton on Thursday morning, drove in the game-winning run for the Yankees on Saturday afternoon in their 9-5 win over the Mariners. His single through the right side drove in Austin Kearns and broke a 4-4 tie.
“I think it’s the most excited I’ve ever been in my life right now,” said Nunez, who made his first Major League start on Saturday in place of Alex Rodriguez (calf).
The wrestling belt that the Yankees pass along to the player most responsible for that day’s win was waiting for Nunez at his locker after the game. Nunez also got the ball from his first hit, which he will send home to his mother, Victoria Mendez, in the Dominican Republic.
“I didn’t want to do too much,” Nunez said when asked about his mindset at the plate in such a big spot.
The Yankees will be asking the 23-year-old to do a little more for the rest of the month. Joe Girardi announced after the game that the team had placed Alex Rodriguez on the disabled list, meaning Nunez may continue to get regular playing time.
BRAUNY BRANYAN: Nick Swisher barely moved after the ball left Russell Branyan’s bat in the top of the first. Branyan drilled Javier Vazquez’s tenth pitch of the game into the third deck in right field. Branyan’s shot was the first ball to reach the upper deck in the two-year history of the new Yankee Stadium.
Branyan homered twice off of A.J. Burnett on Friday night and has seven home runs in 11 career games at the new Yankee Stadium.
“There’s something about him and this ballpark,” Curtis Granderson said.
AUSTIN’S POWER: Austin Kearns extended his hitting streak to a season-high 10 games with a single to lead off the seventh inning. Kearns came around to score to break a 4-4 tie when Nunez singled through the right side. Kearns is batting .419 (13-for-31) over the stretch.
KOTCHMAN STREAK SNAPPED: Casey Kotchman's error in the eighth inning on a Granderson ground ball snapped a 274-game errorless streak at first. That was the longest errorless streak at first base in major-league history. Kotchman’s last error came on June 20, 2008 when he was an Atlanta Brave.