By: Andrew Tashian
Eduardo Nunez has been quite the difference maker since Boston acquired him on July 26th from the San Francisco Giants. I can post all his stats, compare him to Pablo Sandoval, ask what happens when Dustin Pedroia returns from the DL, but that's not the story that needs to be told here. Eduardo Nunez has given character to a Red Sox team who was still searching for their identity three weeks ago.
Nunez is , indeed, the catalyst the Sox have longed for during the 2017 campaign. Being traded to the Red Sox has been an absolute blessing for Nunez. Playing solidly for a losing team is never fun and that's the exact situation Eddie was trapped in with the Giants. Hitting his 10th HR of the season [6th with Boston] to rip the game wide open in Wednesday's game vs Cleveland was just another notch on Nunez's clutch belt he's been wearing since late July. The homerun came on a revenge driven swing, during a 4-run 9th inning for Boston hitters and after an 8th inning bush-league play from Indians pitcher Corey Kluber.
Nunez had swung at a 2-0 pitch like it was the last swing he would ever take & ended up fouling it off while falling to a knee. Corey Kluber obviously didn't like Nunez using the baseball bat to hit the baseball so he inexplicably threw at Eddie. The video is at the bottom of this post. Whether he meant to hit him or throw behind him is neither here nor there, it was a chump move by a very good pitcher. Until that point in the game, the only damage done to Kluber was a solo HR by Sox 1B Mitch Moreland , to break a 0-0 tie in the top of the 5th. Things unraveled quickly for the Indians after the 7th inning, [we all know Sox games don't really start until the 7th] as the now 20 games over .500 Red Sox, extended their 1-0 lead to 6-1 by the 9th frame. Nunez has homered in two straight games after coming into Tuesday night 2 for his last 19. The Red Sox have an interesting problem when The Laser Show returns from his DL stint, but Nunez can't leave the lineup. He means too much. Every Championship team has a character guy, that fans fall in love with despite them not being the "best." In 2004, it was Orlando Cabrera. In 2007, it was Mike Lowell. In 2013, it was Mike Napoli. The way things are trending in 2017, it could be Eduardo Nunez.
Not to be overshadowed by the Red Sox offense, Boston pitching had another championship-caliber game. Drew Pomeranz, making his first start since back spasms cut his last start short, took the hill and continued his eye-opening season. Earning his 10th win in his last 11 decisions, Pomeranz got through 5.1 IP of 2 hit ball while striking out 9. A little bit of rust was apparent, since Drew essentially missed a start, as he walked 4 and hit a batter. Red Sox starters have given up 0 runs and only 3 hits in their last 14.1 IP, a trend this is likely to continue with, God's gift to pitching, Chris Sale starting Thursday night.
Joe Kelly came on in relief for Pomeranz and was perfect in his 1.1 IP. Addison Reed was available for manager John Farrell and came in to close out the 7th inning. Reed was given the 8th and Edwin Encarnacion launched a ball that very well may still be in orbit for his 29th HR of the season. It was the only run the Sox would relinquish as Kimbrel came in and shut the door on the Cleveland 9th.
It was another signature win against a good team for the Red Sox. They're now 73-53 and a season high 20 games over .500. Had the Sox not blown the game on Monday night they'd have their Ace on the mound on Thursday seeking a sweep of the reigning AL Champions, but 3 out of 4 will work, too.
Final Score: Red Sox 6 - Indians 1
Photo Credit: Boston Red Sox