Nunez, Kuroda lead Yanks to win in pitching duel

Hiroki Kuroda tagged out Nick Markakis at the plate in the seventh to preserve the lead.

During spring training, nobody hit the ball to Eduardo Nunez when he manned the outfield.

So, of course, the first ball of the game found him in left field.

Nunez handled that one and made four other putouts during his first career start as a left fielder in last night’s 2-1 win over the Orioles.

“It was going to be a long night,” Nunez said of recording the first putout. “Two hard line drives, I said ‘wow it was going to be a long night for me tonight.’

/* Style Definitions */
p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal
font-family:"Times New Roman";
mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";}
@page WordSection1
{size:8.5in 11.0in;
margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in;

“I said ‘phew,’ yeah. I don’t have nerves. I don’t want to rush anything, make a big mistake and try to dive or something.”

Nunez was put in left field to avoid Curtis Granderson being flanked by Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez while Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher recover from short-term injuries. Before last night, he had played just 18 innings and recorded four putouts.

Only one of those innings was in left field and that was the final inning against Chicago on April 25, 2011.

Nunez looked like a novice when he made two of the first three putouts in the opening inning, but managed to get it done. He took a few steps in to catch Nolan Reimold’s sinking liner and then slid on his knees to nab Nick Markakis’s liner.

In the second, he ran back to the warning track and tracked down Chris Davis’s sacrifice fly that scored Matt Wieters. Coincidentally, Wieters reached when Ibanez mistimed his leap at the warning track in right field.

Nunez had more of an adventurous time getting to Robert Andino’s fly ball. He made the catch practically sitting down, prompting a few smiles and chuckles in the Yankee dugout.

“That’s Nunee,” Jones said. “He’s a funny guy. Everything he does is funny. He talks funny. He runs funny. He catches the ball funny. So everything he does is funny. That’s why everybody is laughing.”

“It didn’t look nice, but he made the plays,” Russell Martin said. “He’s an athlete. He’s got that speed and combine that with reads off the bat, he’s able to move around.”

In the fifth, he made a seamless catch on Wieters’s flyball, which was the last ball hit in his direction.

“So much for not getting any balls. He was tested with some tough plays and did an outstanding job,” manager Joe Girardi said.  “The second one where he went to his knees — that ball knuckled, that ball was hit right on the screws. He had one easy play and he did an outstanding job.”

“He did great,” Jones added. “He got the job done. He made the plays. He caught all the balls that went his way. The only way he’s going to get better is if the team gives him the trust to keep going out there and playing the position.”

Nunez was not the only preventing hits for Hiroki Kuroda, who made a second straight strong start. Kuroda allowed one run and four hits in seven innings, getting nice plays from Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter along the way while making one of his own in the seventh.

Kuroda pitched efficiently with his slider, sinker and splitter, reaching 80 pitches with one out in the seventh.

Kuroda also made the most crucial defensive play of the night. He bounced a splitter that Martin could not handle. The ball went just past the third-base foul line, but Kuroda hustled to the plate and applied the tag on Markakis for the final out of the seventh.

“If I was a bit further, it would have been tougher,” Martin said. “I didn’t really have time to set myself up to throw the ball overhand. I kind of optioned it. I never was a quarterback, so that’s a first for me.

“But it really was Hiro getting a good position and getting it quick. He gave me a good target and I just threw it.”

The effective defense came on a night when the Yankees mustered little against the previously unbeaten Jason Hammel. They scored their lone runs on Eric Chavez’s home run with one out in the third that landed near the back of the Yankees bullpen.

Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.


Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking


K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.


Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.


Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.


Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.


Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…


Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…


2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…


NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…


Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.


Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.


Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.


Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.


Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.