In Diamondbacks debut, Vidal Nuño turns in career effort
PHOENIX -- Before the season even began, the Arizona Diamondbacks had a bad lot -- torn ulnar collateral ligaments in the arms of Patrick Corbin and David Hernandez, a date with Clayton Kershaw and the larger-than-life Los Angeles Dodgers down under, flat tires.
The most expensive roster in franchise history couldn't buy a break. The team's two biggest offseason acquisitions, Mark Trumbo and Bronson Arroyo, suffered injuries that will keep them out for most or all of the season. Budding stars Chris Owings and A.J. Pollock followed suit, as did reliable veterans Eric Chavez and Cliff Pennington.
The on-the-field stuff had gone similarly awry, with home park struggles, drubbings by division rivals, blown saves and the like.
Fortunately, Vidal Nuño wasn't around for any of that. But he did get to witness its residue firsthand after he exited his debut in the desert.
When he first took the mound in a Diamondbacks uniform Tuesday, his start went quite swimmingly, never really erring into a hint of trouble against the Miami Marlins.
In seven innings, Nuño allowed just three hits and a walk while tallying a career-high seven strikeouts.
The left-hander never faced more than four hitters over the course of an inning, setting the opposing side down in order in three of his final five innings pitched. Nuño managed his results with the help of a low-90s fastball, a mid-80s slider, a low-80s changeup and a mid-70s curveball.
"I was just mixing up my pitches, commanding every (area) of the zone," he explained after the game.
Prior to joining the Diamondbacks Sunday, Nuño's time as a long reliever and back-of-the-rotation starter with the New York Yankees this season didn't quite bear the same resemblance.
In 17 appearances, including three in relief, the 26-year-old compiled a 2-5 record to go along with a 5.24 earned run average. But he carried some momentum from the Bronx to the desert, after going 1-1 with a 2.53 ERA in his previous two starts in pinstripes.
In his last three starts, spanning 17.2 innings pitched, he now has a 1.53 ERA with 17 strikeouts.
"The last two outings were getting to that point where I was making strides toward where I wanted to be," Nuño explained after the game.
Apart from his mound exploits, too, Nuño scored his team's only run Tuesday, also laying down a pair of picture-perfect sacrifice bunts two of the first three plate appearances of his career.
"He did a hell of a job for us," Gibson said of the performance.
At the plate, "He made it look easy," as Gibson said after the game. "He had two sac bunts.
"He did his job for sure."
Not as much could be said of closer Addison Reed, on the other hand.
The Diamondbacks closer spoiled Nuño's effort with his fifth blown save of the season, giving way to a 2-1 Marlins win.
Given its season-long woes, the Diamondbacks clubhouse would be a tough place to land this season. But after one start, Nuño looks to have landed softly, even if it he found himself immediately surrounded by the collective tumult that is the 2014 Diamondbacks.
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