Newcomer Nunez provides quick jolt for Giants

Newcomer Nunez provides quick jolt for Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- Despite enduring a slump that has lasted for about two weeks, the collective mood inside the Giants' clubhouse hasn't been distressed. Several players have consistently noted that in a long season, brief skids are natural.

But in this "rough go," as Giants manager Bruce Bochy described it, they needed some type of boost. Enter recent acquisition Eduardo Nunez, who quickly became a crowd favorite Saturday after hitting a two-run double in the fourth as the Giants overcame a three-run deficit to defeat the Washington Nationals, 5-3, at AT&T Park.

"He got us back in the ballgame," Bochy said of the 2016 All-Star, who made his first start for the Giants on Saturday. "It just lifts a ballclub when somebody comes through like that."

Nunez, who arrived in San Francisco on Friday afternoon, was given plenty of opportunities to contribute Saturday, when he started at shortstop in place of an injured Brandon Crawford. Nunez took advantage in the fourth with the bases loaded and nobody out, lining a double to center field to score Joe Panik and Brandon Belt.

Nunez's two-run double

It came one at-bat after Nunez couldn't put the ball in play in a similar bases-loaded situation. The newcomer fouled out to the catcher with two outs as the Giants' offense continued to show signs of futility with runners in scoring position. The group entered Saturday batting .147 in those situations since the All-Star break.

But Nunez broke that spell in the fourth with his double and primed what would be just the third Giants win since the break.

"I didn't even know they were struggling," said Nunez, no stranger to team slumps while playing with the Minnesota Twins, who entered Saturday with a 39-63 record.

Nunez realized that was the case quickly after Friday's loss. And the seven-year veteran responded by going 2-for-5 with two RBIs and a stolen base in his first start.

Nunez's first Giants steal

Nunez, who led the American League in steals before being traded, recorded his 27th stolen base of the season after singling in the first inning.

"He's very dynamic; he's close to thirty stolen bases now," said catcher Buster Posey. "He's got a lot of tools and the versatility will be huge for us."

Nunez played shortstop Saturday, but will likely be used in a variety of spots as a utility infielder. He plans to take a simple approach to his job with the Giants, too.

"Play my game, don't try to do too much," he said.

That mindset helped him get selected to his first All-Star Game this season. Nunez was hitting .300 with 12 home runs and 47 RBIs before being traded.

He's off to a solid start in San Francisco.

"I'm happy to be in this situation," said Nunez, "to come here and we know we have chances to win every day."

Justin Wise is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.