Eduardo Nunez never has been much of a power hitter. The 195-pound utility man has just 42 career homers in eight-plus major league seasons and hasn’t hit more than 16 long balls in a single campaign.
But Nunez has transformed into a modern-day Babe Ruth since joining the Boston Red Sox.
The 30-year-old veteran blasted a solo shot off Chicago White Sox starter Mike Pelfrey on Sunday, starting the scoring in Boston’s eventual 6-3 win at Fenway Park. The round-tripper was Nunez’s eighth homer of the season and fourth in nine games since joining the Red Sox via a trade from the San Francisco Giants.
Nunez boasts a cartoonish 1.225 OPS in a Boston uniform, also adding four doubles and 12 RBIs in those nine contests. So, why has he found so much success at the plate? A change in scenery from the spacious AT&T Park probably helped, but Nunez’s hitting style also plays quite well in his new home ballpark.
A look at Nunez’s spray charts on Fangraphs shows that while the right-hander hits to all fields, literally all of his home runs in the last two seasons have been pulled to left field.
That bodes very well at Fenway, where the Green Monster looms just 310 feet away down the left field line. Indeed, Nunez has hit all four of his home runs with Boston on (or over) the Monster.
“I think for right-handers that have a tendency to pull the baseball, this is a good ballpark for them,” Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters after Sunday’s game, as aired on NESN. “… At least what we’ve seen in the 10 days he’s been here, yeah, his swing plays real well in this ballpark.”
Don’t expect Nunez to continue his homer-in-every-other-game pace. But Boston’s newest addition appears right at home in America’s most beloved ballpark.
Let’s hit a few other notes from the Red Sox’s win over Chicago.
— Doug Fister has turned things around after a rough start to his Red Sox tenure.
The veteran right-hander gave Boston 6 1/3 quality innings Sunday, earning his second consecutive win after going winless in his first seven outings. Fister usually doesn’t overpower batters, but he impressed with a season-high seven strikeouts, his highest K total since Aug. 1, 2016.
— Chris Young is one home run away from a unique milestone.
The Red Sox designated hitter’s two home runs Sunday were his first two career blasts against the White Sox, meaning he now has hit at least one homer against 29 of 30 Major League Baseball clubs. The Arizona Diamondbacks, who employed Young for his first seven MLB seasons, are the only exception.
— Boston’s American League East foes managed to keep pace Sunday, as the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays both earned victories.
The Red Sox still hold a three-game lead over New York and a 5.5-game lead over Tampa Bay for first place.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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