PHOENIX — With the Red Sox looking at a 14-1 deficit entering the eighth inning Friday, Alex Cora walked over to infielder Eduardo Nunez and asked him if he’s ever pitched.
“I said yes, when I was in Little League,” Nunez said. “It was 20 years ago.”
This was a moment 20 years in the making.
Nunez took the mound for the bottom of the eighth inning of the Sox’ eventual 15-8 loss to the Diamondbacks and actually pitched quite well.
Ketel Marte had smoked two home runs already in the game, but Nunez threw him an 80 mph breaking ball that Marte grounded to second base for an easy out to begin the inning.
Matt Koch hit a weak fly out to center for the second out.
Then Nunez faced old friend Alex Avila, who he knew from his time in the American League Central, and wanted to have some fun.
“It’s no fun to be in that situation, but it’s fun to pitch in the big leagues,” Nunez said.
He threw back-to-back knuckler-looking pitches that looped in for strikes. Avila swung wildly at the second one and missed, then looked at Nunez and started laughing.
“I saw him laughing, so I started laughing,” he said.
Three pitches later, Nunez threw what he called a “straight fastball” at 85 mph on the outer part of the plate and Avila hit it out of the park on a line to left field.
But Nunez finished the inning allowing only Avila’s home run.
Though Nunez had fun with it, the outing signaled a dark moment for the 2-7 Red Sox, who haven’t found any rhythm to start the season.
“We’re struggling,” Nunez said. “We have to do a better job at everything. Everything. I think we’re better than that. We know that it’s a bad start, a rough week, but it’s time to pick it up. There’s a lot of good talent in here. There’s no excuse, nothing, for us to play like this.
“We all have to trust each other, trust each other through the process. We have to go back, go to work, have to be humble again, have to be hungry. We’re in this hole. We have to come back tomorrow and play.”
Eduardo Núñez, Nasty 60mph….ummm….Loopy Slow Curvy Thing?
Avila had the last laugh though. pic.twitter.com/W5hmCUpvoY
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 6, 2019