Alfonso Soriano played 93 games for the Cubs this season and hit multiple home runs in three of them. He’s played 43 games with the Yankees and has hit more than one home run four times. He came to the Yankees on July 26, and since then he’s led the Majors with 15 homers. He’s four Yankees RBI away from matching his season total with the Cubs.
“I followed the Yankees early in the season, and they had a lot of injuries,” Soriano said. “Now with Alex, Granderson and me, we have a better lineup now. The pitcher has to work more, especially a day like today when it’s very hot and humid. (Orioles starter Miguel) Gonzalez got tired and we got him. First couple innings, he pitched very good. After the fourth or fifth inning he got tired and we put together a good inning.”
This is the kind of thing the Yankees are capable of doing now that they couldn’t do two months ago. This sort of game, a lost cause at 4-1 that suddenly became 4-3 and then became a huge win to restore some playoff hope. The Yankees pulled back within two games of the Rays, and they’re within a half game of jumping back in front of the Orioles and Indians. They’re a different team these days, the biggest question seems to be whether there are enough days left.
“I’ve said all along there’s no quit in this team and there’s a lot of character in that room,” Joe Girardi said. “They’ve fought all year long, and they continue to fight. We’re down 4-1, Gonzalez is pitching a good game, guys put a couple of homers up and we’re right back in the game. You get big hit after big hit, so, no, this team just continues to fight.”
Getting Rodriguez and Granderson healthy has helped, obviously, but the single biggest difference maker has been Soriano. He was a clear offensive boost, but to give the Yankees a month and a half of MVP-type production? That’s well beyond even the most optimistic hope, and even Soriano said he can’t remember ever being quite this hot at the plate.
“Not really,” he said. “The difference is, I’m having fun right now. I’m playing for a team to be a contender in the playoffs, so every game counts. Every pitch. With the Cubs, we weren’t in the race. We were in last place. We weren’t a good offensive team. Now, here it’s different. Every game counts and every game is important, so I’m trying to do my job to help the team to win.”
His left hamstring got tight while he was running the bases in the eighth. That’s why he came out of the game, but Rodriguez and Girardi are both optimistic that he’ll be able to DH tomorrow.
“I just felt it a little bit at third base, rounding third,” Rodriguez said. “Iced it. It feels pretty good right now. Doctor looked at it, it looks pretty good.”
He’s been dealing with some lingering soreness in his triceps most of the year. He went on the DL with a triceps issue at the end of April, and it’s bothered him off and on ever since. “It’s like, sometimes you feel it, sometimes you don’t feel it,” he said.
Nova admitted that he’s been hesitant to tell the Yankees when it’s popped up, but he said something tonight and the Yankees pulled him after just 79 pitches. Nova is still hoping to make his next start, and Girardi gave no real indication that he was planning to skip Nova.
“Sometimes it sounds like kind of stupid (to not tell the Yankees when it hurts), because you’ve got to protect your career and all that,” Nova said. “But at the same time I’ve got a good feeling. I like this team so much. I just want to be out there trying to help the team any time I get out there. It’s hard for me to say, oh (it hurts), knowing that they’re going to take me out. It’s hard. … I want to keep pitching. What have I got, three or four starts left? Probably three, right? We’re in the middle of this. I’m still feeling that I can get outs and help the team to win games.”
The Yankees catcher likely suffered a concussion when he was hit by that foul tip in the eighth. Girardi said he expects Romine to head to the hospital at some point and probably won’t be available tomorrow. Have to assume he wouldn’t have started again until Thursday anyway.
“He’s got probably a concussion,” Girardi said. “He’s a little dizzy. When we first went out there he said he was fine and he passed all the tests when we first went out there, and then after the one hitter he got nauseous. So we just took him out.”
• News of the Brendan Ryan trade didn’t break until after the clubhouse closed, so Girardi wasn’t asked about his plans for Ryan. With Rodriguez likely to DH tomorrow, I’d guess that Ryan starts at short and either Nunez or Reynolds plays third. At the very least, Ryan is a defensive replacement and insurance policy.
• One play that stood out earlier in the game was the Soriano throw from left field, when Rodriguez cut off the throw and Chris Stewart obviously thought he had a play. “I thought we had a chance to let the ball go through and try to get the guy at the plate,” Stewart said. “It looks a lot worse on TV than I initially meant. I definitely didn’t mean to do anything like it looked, but it was a surprise reaction. That’s what showed up. … It was off-line a little bit, but I thought I could have gotten the ball and been able to put the tag down. He read it differently and that’s why he cut it.”
• Girardi said the throw was clearly off line. Clearly Rodriguez did as well. Stewart and Soriano each said they thought it had a chance. Ultimately didn’t matter, but for a while, that seemed to be a huge play.
• Soriano on his reaction to not getting the out at home: “I said, ‘OK, it’s one run. Let me hit a home run. Let me get it back.'” Soriano was laughing when he said it, but he did hit a home run his next at-bat, and given the way he’s playing lately, he might be capable of stuff like that right now.
• Was Rodriguez surprised to be sent home on Robinson Cano’s single in the eighth? “Not at all,” he said. “If I didn’t score, I don’t think Robbie talks to me for a week, so I’m glad I scored.”
• Girardi said he didn’t expect to add another catcher in reaction to the Romine situation, but he also acknowledged that there have been a flurry of moves lately, so who knows? “We have players coming and going,” Girardi said.
• Despite Nova’s obvious lingering problem, Girardi actually sounded optimistic about having him start on Sunday. “Because he’s had it,” Girardi said. “This cropped up when he was on a rehab a long time ago. He’s managed it really well. He hasn’t missed a start. So I don’t think it will affect him.”
• Final word goes to Girardi: “I always believe these guys are going to fight back. I believe that’s the belief you have to have. Because I’ve seen them do it. We watched it all week long. Guys continued to fight and fight when we got down, and we came back. With the punch that we have now, you feel you can come back now.”
Associated Press photos