Thursday, August 15, 2013

Streaking Soriano

When the Yankees traded for Alfonso Soriano back on July 26th, they were hoping he could provide some righthanded power for a lineup that desperately needed it. In the 21 games leading up to the trade, he'd smacked 10 home runs to go with 21 RBI and a 1.044 OPS. With Soriano swinging the bat so well, and few impact bats available leading up to the trade deadline, putting the former Yankee back in pinstripes seemed like a pretty solid move at the time.

Except that Soriano stopped hitting the moment he switched teams. In the 15 games immediately following the trade, he batted just .193/.220/.368 while striking out in one third of his at-bats. He was flailing, perhaps trying too hard to be the savior. Somehow, Soriano found a way to be worse than the players he was replacing in Joe Girardi's lineup card.  Once again it seemed the Yankees had whiffed by pinning their hopes on a overpaid, over-the-hill veteran.

But Soriano is streaky. For as hot as he was in July, he had one measly home run and two measly RBI in his first 27 games of the season. So it should come as no surprise that after looking lost at the plate for three weeks, he's reversed direction on a dime and is now ridiculously hot.

With the Angels in town on Tuesday night, Soriano struck out swinging in each of his first two at-bats (against Jason Vargas, who doesn't miss many bats), seemingly destined for another fruitless night at the plate. His inauspicious start gave no indication of the barrage he was about to unleash.

Because in the bottom of the fifth, with the Yankees trailing 3-2, Soraino belted a two-run shot to put New York on top. He roped an RBI single his next time up, then capped his monster game by jacking a three-run homer to the opposite field. The Yankees had a huge night with the bats, scoring 14 runs and pounding out 19 hits, but Soriano was the star of the show, going 3-for-6 with three runs scored, two big flies and six RBI--a single game career high.

Soriano was even better in his encore performance last night, another Yankees rout. He got the party started by lashing a first inning grand slam to center field to open the floodgates against Jered Weaver. Soriano came up with the bases loaded again in his next AB, and sure enough he delivered, ripping a double into the left field corner that scored Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez. His third time up, Soriano led off the fifth inning with a solo smash deep into the left field bleachers. He walked in his final plate appearance and came around to score, finishing the game 3-for-3 with three runs scored, two dingers and seven RBI--a new single game career high--to pace New York's 11-3 victory.

In the process, Soriano became one of just three players in big league history to drive in six or more runs in consecutive games, joining Rusty Greer and Geoff Jenkins (who would've guessed those two?) . He also became the first Yankee to hit multiple homers in consecutive games since 2005, when Jason Giambi did it at the end of August.

Soriano continued to rake today, stroking four singles. The Yankees fell 8-4 in the series finale, but at least they can feel confident heading into this weekend's showdown in Beantown with Soriano leading the way.

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