(Reuters) - Boston Red Sox infielder Eduardo Nunez was disappointed to hear he would not start Game One of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers just hours before the first pitch on Tuesday, but stayed ready in case his number was called.
The call came in the seventh inning and the 31-year-old was more than ready for his pinch-hit at-bat, where he delivered a three-run knockout punch over the Green Monster in left field to give his team an 8-4 lead it would not relinquish.
“He was a little bit disappointed that he didn’t start, because he’s been starting against every lefty,” said manager Alex Cora, who had instead put Rafael Devers into the line-up to face Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw.
“And it worked out. He was prepared. He wasn’t upset that he wasn’t playing. I told him, ‘Be ready, man. You might have a big at-bat tonight and do your thing.’ And he did.”
Nunez sent the second offering he saw from Dodgers reliever Alex Wood into the stands to put the back-and-forth game out of reach.
Nunez, whose season last year was cut short after he reinjured his right knee in the first game of the playoffs and had to be carried off the field, said the home run was sweet redemption.
“I was disappointed in myself last year. I was getting injured in the wrong time,” the Dominican Republic native told reporters after the game.
“And so my team mates lost in the first round. It was awful,” he said.
“So I signed back. I told Alex, the only reason I signed back here ... was I want to win rings.”
Nunez’s blast in his first career World Series game helped bring that goal a little closer.
Teams that win Game One of a best-of-seven World Series have gone on to win the series 63.3 percent of the time (69-40), according to ESPN Statistics.
Nunez continued to stay humble after the game, saying he was not interested in personal accolades, only team success.
“I don’t care about being a hero,” he said.
“As long as we have the win, that’s all that matters. We are here to win and lose together. Who cares who’s the hero that night,” he said.
“As long as we have a hero, that’s a good feeling because we have the win.”
Game Two will be held Wednesday at Fenway Park before the series shifts to Los Angeles for Game Three on Friday.
Editing by Peter Rutherford