RBI coming in bunches for Soriano

Watching Alfonso Soriano drive in six runs Tuesday night reminded me of the story about the former Brooklyn Dodgers manager Chuck Dressen back in the days of their heated rivalry with the New York Giants.

After watching Willie Mays make a spectacular catch in center field to rob one of the Dodgers hitters of an extra-base hit, Dressen snarled in the dugout, “I’d like to see him do that again!”

So for all those detractors out there who might have said the same thing about him, Soriano had a ready answer. He went out and did it again – and thensome – the very next night.

By the second inning Wednesday night, Soriano had already matched his career-best RBI total set the night before. The crowd at Yankee Stadium went wild when he connected for his fifth career grand slam in the first inning, an impressive blow to center field off of one of the best pitchers in the American League, Angels righthander Jered Weaver.

It climaxed a two-out rally featuring a single by Robinson Cano (the first of his four hits), a double by Alex Rodriguez and a walk to Curtis Granderson. The Yankees batted around in the second inning to put up four more runs on RBI singles by Cano and Granderson and a two-run double by Soriano. That gave him six RBI for the second straight game.

Soriano broke his personal mark for RBI in a game that had stood for one day when he led off the fifth inning with his second home run of the game and fourth in two games. It marked the third time in his career that Soriano has had back-to-back multi-homer games. Soriano had a shot at an eighth RBI when he batted in the seventh after Granderson led off with a double, but the Angels finally got smart and just walked him.

Always a favorite with Stadium crowds, he was serenaded with rhythmic chants of “Sor-i-a-no!” all night long. And why not? He has been just what the Yankees needed when acquired from the Cubs prior to the non-waiver trade deadline last month. The Yanks had long been need for a power bat from the right side, and Soriano has provided that. He has 22 RBI in 17 games with the Yankees while batting .258 with seven home runs in 66 at-bats.

Soriano had been in a funk for about a week leading up to his 2,000th hit, a home run Sunday against the Tigers that set him off on the current streak in which he is 6-for-14 (.429) with four homers and 13 RBI. He has always been a streaky hitter. The Yankees are enjoying the ride on his current streak.
Soriano has helped revive an element that had been missing largely from the Yankees’ attack this year – the long ball. The Yankees have homered in five consecutive games and 18 times in their past 15 games after being held homerless in nine straight games from July 19-27.

Armed with an 8-0 lead after two innings, Ivan Nova pitched with confidence and efficiency to raise his record to 6-4. The righthander allowed 10 hits but no walks, although he hit a batter. It was the seventh straight start in which Nova pitched at least seven innings and allowed three runs or less, another good sign that he has found a permanent home in the rotation.

So the Yankees who had gone a month without winning two consecutive games have now won four in a row and have the opportunity to complete a sweep of the Angels Thursday before going to Boston over the weekend for a three-game set against the American League East-leading Red Sox.

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