Eduardo Nunez made his big-league return just in time, starting a three-run, seventh-inning rally by singling in Steve Pearce in the New York Yankees' 4-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles (73-59) on Saturday.
Nunez, whose offensive prowess has often been overshadowed by his defensive struggles, was demoted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after committing two errors at third on May 10 against the Tampa Bay Rays. Making matters worse, he was sidelined by a thumb injury for two months subsequent to his demotion.
"It feels really good to be back, especially after being injured," Nunez, one of New York's September call-ups, told Yahoo! Contributor Network in Spanish. "I'm here to win. You hit, you run, it doesn't matter what it is. What's important is to contribute to the team."
Nunez, who started at DH, hit his run-scoring single to center against left-hander Wei-Yin Chen (L, 12-8) (6.2 IP, 4H, 4R). He described the experience of finally completing his journey back and suiting up for the big club for the first time in more than 3 1/2 months as "very emotional."
The Yankees (76-56), in the meantime, get to breathe a sigh of relief, as their victory over Baltimore brings their AL East lead back up to three games.
After Nunez had his face-to-face with writers, Yankees starter Ivan Nova talked to YCN about his friend's return.
"Everybody knows that we've played together for a long time," the right-hander said. "He went back to the minors, but we finally got him back and I'm glad that he's here."
Nova was hardly surprised that Nunez offensively impacted the outcome of the matinee despite it being his first game back.
"He's a tremendous hitter; there's no doubt about that," he said. "Most of his problems are on defense, but he's a tremendous hitter. In the dugout, I was saying, 'Come on, come on, come on... Hit a double!' He said, 'I'm gonna get a base hit.'
"It's been a long time I don't see him," Nova added, "and I feel really good about him--my brother in baseball."
Correction on a previous report: Curtis Granderson was removed from Saturday's game with a tight right hamstring before the third inning, not during the fifth. Granderson initially experienced discomfort after striking out in the second. He immediately underwent an MRI at New York-Presbyterian hospital as a precaution and was listed as day-to-day with mild tendinitis and tightness. Granderson could return for Sunday's rubber match. ... Left-handed reliever Boone Logan (W, 6-2), who tossed two scoreless innings, recorded the win, and Rafael Soriano threw a scoreless ninth to save his 35th game in 38 chances.