Alfonso Soriano in the month of August: .267/.325/.600 with 11 home runs, 31 RBI and six stolen bases.
“He’s playing like an MVP,” Joe Girardi said.
Mark Reynolds since joining the Yankees: .316/.366/.553 with three doubles, two homers and seven RBI in 12 games.
“He’s a guy that can carry a club,” Girardi said.
This was absolutely the type of game the Yankees couldn’t win a couple of months ago. They didn’t have the offensive firepower to make up for CC Sabathia giving a good team two different leads, one of them coming crushingly right after Soriano had put the Yankees in front with yet another home run. That fifth-inning rally started with four straight extra-base hits from the bottom of the order? Did that ever happen in June? Was it even possible in June?
“We feel like our lineup is a lot deeper, and we have some guys who can swing the bat down there,” Girardi said. “… Let’s get the pitchers right, too. We have to click on all cylinders, basically. One night, we may score eight runs, and the next night we may not, and that’s when the pitchers have to pick up the hitters.”
Here’s the question going forward: How many games like this is the offense capable of winning down the stretch? If the Yankees rotation can’t get straightened out — if Sabathia is going to keep pitching like this, if Hiroki Kuroda can’t get back on track, if Phil Hughes can’t keep the ball in the park — is this rejuvenated lineup good enough to carry the team?
Soriano talked about simply swinging at good pitches, and Reynolds talked about his minor mechanical adjustment that’s helped his timing. They made it sound easy, and certainly the Yankees are scoring eight runs a lot easier these days. But games like this are hard to win night after night.
This felt like a big win. The trick is to do it again. And again.
• Sorry for the somewhat negative tone, but it’s hard to overlook Sabathia on a night like this. Nice win for the offense — and the bullpen — but Sabathia once again failed to pitch out of the sixth inning and was pulled after just 86 pitches. He’s a different pitcher these days, and tonight he was treated that way. “I guess I can’t be surprised by anything that happens this year,” Sabathia said. “… The way the year’s been going, I don’t blame (Girardi).”
• Girardi on the decision to pull Sabathia with two outs in the sixth: “(Danny Valencia) hit a changeup out and he hit a fastball at Alex. That’s his job to fact left-handed pitchers, and he’s swung very well against left-handed pitchers, so I thought I’d bring in the righty.”
• Kind of unusual on a night when he doesn’t seem sharp, Sabathia actually said he felt alright. He usually says his arm felt OK, then picks apart his bad pitches. Tonight he said this: “I feel like I threw the ball pretty well, just a couple of times they were able to get to me and put some balls in play. It kind of turned out to be not as good.”
• The home run to Valencia was a changeup that was supposed to be down. Sabathia was hoping for a double play. He left the pitch up, and Valencia hit his sixth homer. He’s in a five-game hitting streak, batting .611 with four doubles and two homers during that stretch.
• Dave Robertson said he expects to be available again tomorrow after throwing an inning and a third on 25 pitches. “Right now it’s getting tight and we need to win every opportunity that we can,” he said. “I was prepared to come in in the seventh inning, and I”ll be prepared the rest of the year.”
• Girardi seemed to manage this game with a new urgency — going to the pen early, using Kelley in two different innings, giving Robertson four outs — but Girardi said that was at least partially because a rested bullpen gave him that luxury. “You had some guys who had three or four days off,” he said. “When you can do it, I’ll do it, but you can’t do it every day because you’ll wear them out and then they’ll struggle.”
• In the fifth inning, the first seven Yankees batters reached base safely. According to Elias, that’s their longest such streak in one inning since April 21, 2012. Seven straight also reached base in a game earlier this year, but it was spread across two innings because Zoilo Almonte was thrown out trying to stretch a second to a double, which ended an inning with the streak still going.
• Reynolds has back-to-back three-hit games … Soriano has homered three times in his past three games … Ichiro Suzuki snapped a 131 at-bat homerless stretch.
• Girardi on the Curtis Granderson bunt in the seventh when Soriano was out between third and home: “I’m ok with it because Sori can get at least halfway down the line. … It’s a read by Sori and it may have shocked him, I’m not sure what happened, but I don’t have a problem with it.” Girardi said he was fine with both of Granderson’s bunts tonight. “If they’re going to give him a base, we have some guys now that can hit the ball out of the ballpark behind him,” Girardi said.
• Final word goes to Soriano: “I’m working hard with the hitting coach. I’m very aggressive at the home plate, but at the same time, select and wait for my pitch. That’s what I try to do. … We never lost the confidence. Now we know we have a very good lineup and a very good offense.”
Associated Press photos