Nunez uncharacteristically wild
Some tension surfaced before Leo Nunez locked down his 22nd save of the season on Wednesday at St. Louis.
In the Marlins’ 5-2 win over the Cardinals, Nunez was uncharacteristically wild, hitting Ryan Ludwick and Albert Pujols with pitches before Matt Holliday bounced into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Entering the ninth inning with a four-run lead, the Marlins went with reliever Brian Sanches, who retired Julio Lugo on a groundball to open the frame.
From there, the plot thickened when pinch-hitter Jason LaRue drew a walk after a 10-pitch showdown. Mark DeRosa’s double put runners on second and third, brining in Nunez.
Nunez’s first pitch was a fastball that plunked Ludwick on the hand, bringing up Pujols, who was promptly clipped by a changeup, drawing boos and jeers from the crowd.
“I tried to throw a fastball inside and it got away,” Nunez said through a translator. “The changeup to Pujols also went too far inside, but thank God everything came out well and I got a double play.”
Holliday bounced a fastball away to Dan Uggla at second base. The double play was turned easily, prompting Nunez to make an exuberant fist pump and point to the sky. Again, the crowd booed Nunez.
“We were trying to go in with a fastball on Ludwick,” said catcher John Baker, who noted he almost threw his shoulder out while celebrating the final outs. “We went too far in. We were trying to throw a changeup to Albert.”
In his first 68 appearances, Nunez only hit two batters. So striking two straight — back-to-back — was uncharacteristic.
“It’s probably more of a fluke than anything,” Baker said. “We’re not trying to hit Albert in that situation. We’re not trying to hit Ryan Ludwick to get to Albert Pujols with the bases loaded in the ninth inning with a four run lead. Common sense says that’s not we were trying to do. I think even Albert knew.”
– Joe Frisaro