Soriano’s hitting tear sparks resurgent Yankees
BOSTON (AP) — Alfonso Soriano walked into a pack of reporters at Fenway Park with his familiar smile, fresh off another big night at the plate. His historic four-game clip had the rest of the Yankees feeling good, too.
Soriano has put up eye-popping numbers lately, providing the power his teammates were missing to help New York tighten the playoff race.
In a four-game span through Friday night’s win at Boston, the 37-year-old Soriano went 13 for 18 with five homers and a record-tying 18 RBIs, becoming the sixth player to drive in that many during a stretch of four games.
The huge hits are even more than the Yankees hoped for when they got the good-natured Soriano in a late July trade with the Chicago Cubs, bringing him back to the organization where he began his major league career in 1999.
“It’s fun to watch the way he’s adjusted right away,” Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano said. “He was in the National League for six years and to come back to the American League and swing the bat the way he is, is unbelievable, especially right when we need him.”
Soriano became the first player with 18 RBIs in four games since Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa in August 2002. Before that, it was Yankees Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio in 1939.
Soriano had two singles in four at-bats Saturday but was held without an RBI during a 6-1 loss to the rival Red Sox. He is 15 for 22 (.682) in his last five games with five homers and nine runs scored.
The Yankees acquired Soriano to boost a struggling lineup that was riddled with injuries and looked nothing like last year’s team that led the majors with 245 homers. At the time of the deal, they were next-to-last in the AL with 88 home runs.
With one four-game outburst, however, he had them thinking about what they could accomplish the rest of the way.
The Yankees are chasing a wild-card spot. With the Cubs, Soriano was on a team that had one of the worst records in the NL.
“I was having fun,” he said Saturday, sitting at his locker about two hours before the game. “But to come back to the Yankees, it’s more fun. It’s back home and makes me feel more comfortable and happy.”
The season didn’t start well for Soriano. He didn’t get his 18th RBI until the 47th game, managing just two in 26 April games.
Soriano, who has 397 career home runs, hit .254 with 17 homers and 51 RBIs for the Cubs this year. The seven-time All-Star is batting .329 with eight homers and 26 RBIs for the Yankees.
In a 10-3 victory Friday night, he hit a three-run homer and drove in four. It was New York’s fifth win in six games.
“They’re having fun with him. They probably don’t want to see him come out of it, either,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “They’re laughing with him and having fun. He’s got a chance to do some damage. That’s the way the guy’s been his whole career — from Day One when we saw him. He’s got a lot of power and that still hasn’t changed.”
Missing injured sluggers Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez for most of the year, the Bronx Bombers limped through much of the season. That is, until Soriano arrived and gave them more power behind Cano.
“Of course it’s a big difference,” Cano said. “Now, the last thing the pitcher wants is to face a guy like that. Now you see better pitches. You know the guy behind you is really hot and he can do damage at any time.”
Soriano is just enjoying the ride as much as his teammates.
“They’re happy to see me do what I’m doing,” he said.
And amazed at what he’s done.
“It’s like he’s playing slow-pitch softball,” Rodriguez said.