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Núñez reaches 30-HR mark with Monster HR

@JoeTrezz
September 27, 2019

BOSTON -- To reach a milestone, Renato Núñez climbed the Monster. Sitting on 29 homers for the better part of three weeks, Núñez dropped his barrel on an 0-2 Nathan Eovaldi curveball Friday night and punctuated his breakout season with a big round number. The resulting 414-foot homer over the

BOSTON -- To reach a milestone, Renato Núñez climbed the Monster.

Sitting on 29 homers for the better part of three weeks, Núñez dropped his barrel on an 0-2 Nathan Eovaldi curveball Friday night and punctuated his breakout season with a big round number. The resulting 414-foot homer over the left-field wall at Fenway Park marked No. 30 on the year for Núñez, and sent the Orioles to a 4-1 win over the Red Sox.

“I think Nuney has really been pressing trying to get that 30th,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “I told him, he’s going to sleep a lot better tonight knowing he’s got 30 homers.”

Box score

Asked how he replied to his manager, Núñez chuckled and said, “I probably will.”

“What can I say? It was always in the back of my mind,” said Núñez. “I just want to help my team win. I hit that one today, and it helped my team win and that’s all I want.”

It was all the offense needed for Asher Wojciechowski, who put a bow on his season by striking out six over six shutout innings. Austin Hays (two hits) and DJ Stewart (three walks and a hit) also had strong nights against losing pitcher Eovaldi and four Red Sox relievers, before Núñez’s RBI single in the ninth provided the final margin. Tanner Scott, Mychal Givens and Richard Bleier held the line for Wojciechowski, who beat the Red Sox for the second time in three starts.

“Great way to end the year for him. He’s thrown more innings than he has in years, and he showed his competitiveness tonight,” Hyde said. “We’ve been kinda waiting for these types of games. We don’t have them very often, where they’re smooth, where we can forecast what can happen next. … It’s a lot easier to navigate when guys are getting it done and getting guys out they are supposed to.”

All told, Wojciechowski finished 4-8 with a 4.92 ERA in 17 games (16 starts). He threw 82 1/3 innings in the Major Leagues and 168 2/3 overall, both representing the highest career workload for the 30-year-old journeyman. He seems likely to arrive in Sarasota, Fla., next spring with a chance to win a rotation spot.

“Throwing this amount of innings, I know how it feels now,” Wojciechowski said. “I know what I have to do, but I will put a big focus on taking care of my body and getting in as good of shape as I can for next season.”

Like Wojciechowski and many of this teammates, Núñez heads into the winter having endured the rigors of a career-heavy workload. Baltimore’s primary designated hitter for the entirety of the season, Núñez previously eclipsed the 30-homer plateau at Triple-A in the A’s system in 2017. But he’d never been given regular at-bats at the big league level until ‘19.

Núñez spent it streaky but productive, parlaying 54 extra-base hits and 89 RBIs into a roughly league-average .775 OPS playing every day. His production seemed to come in bunches. He squeezed more than half his home runs into three 10-game stretches in mid-April, late May and before the All-Star break. He endured a 3-for-47 stretch in May and entered Friday hitting .213 with one homer in September.

Núñez and Trey Mancini (34 homers, 94 RBIs) are the ninth pair of Orioles teammates with at least 30 homers and 85 RBIs in a season. The last pair was Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop in 2017.

“It’s a great accomplishment for your first really full year in the big leagues,” Hyde said of reaching the 30-homer plateau. “For the player, it means a lot.”

Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.