BOSTON -- Eduardo Nunez understands that the outcome of Game 1 of the American League Championship Series could have been different, had he cleanly fielded a pair of balls that were hit toward him at third base. As he put it, this was the wrong time to have a bad game.
George Springer's two-run single opened the scoring when it sizzled past Nunez in the second inning, and Nunez bobbled a potential double-play ball for a sixth-inning error that helped the Astros regain a lead in their eventual 7-2 victory over the Red Sox on Saturday evening at Fenway Park.
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"Really bad. Really frustrating," Nunez said. "No one wants to make an error, especially in a game like this. There's no excuse. I have to make that play."
Red Sox manager Alex Cora's decision to start Nunez over Rafael Devers was rooted more in offense than defense; Cora had explained that Nunez had a better skill set for catching up with the high fastballs that Boston anticipated would fly from Justin Verlander's right hand.
Nunez went hitless in three at-bats with a walk as the Astros found holes on the left side of the infield. Cora absolved Nunez of responsibility for Springer's hit, saying that the 101.8-mph smash to Nunez's left had been a "rocket," but Nunez believes it was a play that he could have made.
"I think I had a chance to catch the ball," Nunez said. "He hit it hard. He's a pretty good hitter."
In the sixth, Alex Bregman was hit by a pitch and Joe Kelly induced Yuli Gurriel to chop a potential double-play ball to Nunez at third base. A bobble cost Nunez any chance at recording an out, which burned Boston later in the inning as Carlos Correa stroked a two-out RBI single to center field, giving the Astros a 3-2 lead they wouldn't relinquish.
"At this stage, you don't turn double plays, you don't make routine plays, the other teams are going to make you pay," Cora said. "That's a tough team over there. You give them more than 27 outs and most of the time they're going to cash in."
Said Nunez: "I think I was a little too quick. A little too fast. I rushed a little bit. I know it's a bouncer, so I knew I had to rush a little bit. I think it was a little too much."
Nunez, who did make a nice stab and off-balance throw to retire Josh Reddick in the seventh, was hardly the only culprit in the defeat.
Chris Sale's command and velocity were lacking in a four-inning effort, with Red Sox pitchers combining to issue 10 walks and hit three batters. Boston managed just three hits, none for extra bases.
"We're human. We mess up sometimes," Mookie Betts said. "It's just a matter of getting over it, turning the page and getting ready for tomorrow."
Nunez said that he feels confident about Boston's chances of evening the series in Sunday's ALCS Game 2.
"We can come back. We did all year long," Nunez said. "Why not tomorrow?"