Nuno opens eyes despite uncertain role

Left-hander's strong effort overshadowed in Yanks' humbling loss to Mets

Nuno opens eyes despite uncertain role

NEW YORK -- It would be easy to forget what Vidal Nuno did on Thursday night.

His opponent, Dillon Gee, twirled 7 1/3 near-flawless innings, and the Mets cruised to a 3-1 victory. By the time the Yankees' crosstown rival had completed its Subway Series sweep, Nuno was little more than an afterthought.

But all things considered, the Yankees rookie starting pitcher likely performed as well as could have been expected. Pitching in the middle of a four-game losing streak with a roster spot that is far from secure, Nuno threw six solid innings in a losing effort, allowing just two runs -- both in the second inning -- on three hits and two walks.

"It was difficult a little bit, those first two innings," Nuno said. "But I just battled back and just tried to keep pitching and tried to find a rhythm."

Nuno escaped trouble in the first inning after allowing a leadoff double to Mets first baseman Justin Turner, but he wasn't as lucky in the second. Left fielder Lucas Duda walked to lead off the inning, and right fielder Marlon Byrd belted a two-run home run to left to put the Yankees in an early 2-0 hole.

His stuff didn't feel as crisp as it did in his first two outings, Nuno said. The left-hander wanted to pitch Byrd inside, but he left a fastball out over the middle of the plate.

The 25-year-old Nuno found that groove he was looking for just two batters later, though. After catcher Anthony Recker followed up Byrd's home run with a double, Nuno went on to retire 15 of the next 16 batters he faced, allowing just one walk.

"I found it," Nuno said. "A light switch just came on in the third inning, and I got in a nice little rhythm."

What comes next for Nuno is uncertain, though. Manager Joe Girardi said before Thursday's game that he plans to keep right-hander David Phelps in the rotation despite a start on Wednesday in which he recorded just one out, and Andy Pettitte is slated to return from the disabled list and start on Monday against Cleveland.

Nuno has posted a 2.25 ERA in 20 innings with the Yankees, but he could be the odd man out once Pettitte returns.

Girardi said the Yankees haven't talked yet about Nuno's role on the team going forward.

"It's just day by day," Nuno said.

"I'm just trying to be ready for my next outing."

Josh Vitale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.