Soriano sets up Yankees for failure

Brian Cashman did not like being overruled or spending $10 million for an eighth-inning guy even though he admitted the move improved the bullpen. Last night, regardless of salary, that same person was the most unpopular player in Yankee Stadium.

That man would be Rafael Soriano, who gave up a two-run home run to Paul Konerko with one out in the eighth of a 3-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox, marking the first time this year the Yankees have a losing streak.

Soriano’s stumbles almost were overshadowed when the Yankees nearly won it only to be thwarted by Brett Lillibridge, a defensive replacement for Carlos Quentin with 31 previous innings in right field and one before this year.

The Yankees had first and second with one out in the ninth against Sergio Santos when Lillibridge’s gems occurred.

The first one featured him running back to the warning track to take away a likely game-winning double by Alex Rodriguez that likely would have scored pinch runner Eduardo Nunez with the winning run.  The next one featured Lillibridge racing in towards the foul line on Robinson Cano’s sinking liner just before the ball hit the ground, causing the Yankee second baseman to slam his bat in disbelief.

When those plays happened, the focus returned to Soriano, who was beaten by Konerko on a 1-1 cutter after he hit Quentin with a slider.

“I just had a bad day … a bad month," Soriano said.

After allowing his first home run, the bad month has featured this for Soriano:  11 appearances, nine earned runs spanning 10 1/3 innings while adjusting to the eighth after getting 72 saves over the previous two years. They also have featured nine walks in those innings for a WHIP of 1.94.

"It has not been easy for me," Soriano said. "I’ve tried to figure out how to do the same that I did last year. I’ve been struggling right now, but I’ll take it, forget all that tonight, come back and find out."

When he comes back, Soriano will have allowed three fewer runs than his 45-save season for Tampa Bay that earned him the big contract in New York. He already has exceeded his most earned runs in a month since becoming a reliever eight years ago with Seattle and any more blowups will keep the discussion and questions coming.

“It’s a different animal here," Joe Girardi said. "Some guys come in and the transition’s easy; some guys, it can be difficult. I haven’t found the transition to be really difficult for him; I just don’t think at times he’s thrown great this year. I haven’t seen anything that tells me he can’t handle it up here."

It was a continuation of three difficult days for Soriano, who was unavailable Sunday due to back soreness. That led to Mariano Rivera throwing 33 pitches and blowing his second save in a game the Yankees eventually won in 11 innings.

In Monday’s series opener, Soriano failed to retrieve a pop-up and it eventually led to insurance run produced by Konerko, but last night must have given Yankee fans nightmares of others who struggled in the difficult pressures of being the eighth inning guy for Rivera.

“You’ve got to fight your way out of it," Girardi said. "You keep using the guys. You get them on track. I haven’t lost any confidence in Rafael Soriano. This is a very good pitcher that just happened to give up a two-run homer tonight."

The Yankees believe he’ll handle it well and Soriano did better this time than on April 4 when he was so upset with himself he did not meet the media until the following day.
This time, Soriano was composed when explaining what went wrong and in his words, it was a pitch that was supposed to be down and away but stayed high.

It also was the first time the Yankees blew an eighth inning lead at home to the White Sox since May 4, 1996. That night Jeff Nelson, also in his first season with the Yankees, coughed up a 4-3 lead in an eventual 11-5 loss.

At that point into his first season in pinstripes, Nelson had allowed the same amount of earned runs as Soriano and wound up pitching to a 3.85 ERA over his final 63 innings. Of course, Nelson was making less than a million dollars, so it seems obvious to wonder if Soriano can handle being the $10 million man in New York.

Soriano’s latest failure undid a fine performance by Ivan Nova, who made it into the seventh for the first time as a major leaguer. Nova held the White Sox to Gordon Beckham’s fifth-inning RBI single among five hits over 6 1/3 innings during a solid 92-pitch night.

Like Soriano, the jury is still out on Nova pitching well consistently. The difference is the expectations and salary.

Yankee Notes:

Brett Gardner has four hits over his last 41 at-bats and two have been home runs. Gardner homered in the ninth inning of Saturday’s rout in Baltimore and again in the fifth inning, which gave the Yankees the lead Soriano eventually blew.

This is the longest the Yankees have gone into a season without losing two in a row since the 2003 season when their first losing streak occurred in the 25th and 26th game.

Jorge Posada had the night off as Rodriguez started at DH. Posada has struggled in 70 plate appearances so far by striking out 19 times and getting nine hits (six home runs).

“It just seems like he’s kind of in between,” Girardi said before the game. “Sometimes it seems like he’s late on the fastball and early on the off-speed. Many times he’s made good pretty good contact and there have been some days where he hits the ball deep and hasn’t had a whole lot to show for it and that becomes frustrating as a player.”

The Yankees lost consecutive home games to the White Sox for the first time since August 2005 and the catches made by Lillibridge were similar to the defensive plays made by Aaron Rowand throughout that series, which saw a 3-2 game and a pair of 2-1 contests.

Francisco Cervelli appeared in his fourth rehab game and first with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre. Cervelli could return this week after going 1-for-5.


Dogs are capable of feeling jealousy - U.S.…

By Curtis Skinner(Reuters) - Dogs are a man's best friend, and research released on Wednesday says canines want to keep it that way.Dogs are capable…


G train riders brace for five-week shutdown

G train service will be suspended between Brooklyn and Queens between Friday, July 25, and Tuesday, Sept. 2.


Peaches Geldof's death was drugs-related, coroner rules

LONDON (Reuters) - The death of Peaches Geldof, the daughter of musician and Band Aid founder Bob Geldof, was drugs-related, a coroner ruled on Wednesday.The…


Family, supporters gather in Brooklyn for Eric Garner…

Family members gathered on Wednesday for the funeral of Eric Garner, who died shortly after police put him in a banned chokehold as they arrested him.

Going Out

Where to go drinking on National Tequila Day…

Thursday is just close enough to the end of the week to make you envision yourself already sunning on a beach towel or lounging by…

Going Out

Things to do in NYC this week: July…

Performing arts A 70’s Summer Night Friday, 6:30 p.m. The Green Building 452 Union St., Gowanus $35, 347-529-6473 Party like it’s summer in the 1970s…

Going Out

5 must-try dishes at Edible Manhattan's Good Beer

Rooting out the exotic amid the New York City bar scene is noble quest. But if you’d like to have it all come to you,…


Art imitates life (almost) in David Shapiro's new…

David Shapiro talks about his book, "You're Not Much Use To Anyone."


Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.


Brandon McCarthy finds his calling on Twitter

Yankees starter Brandon McCarthy joined Twitter three year ago for the same reason many people do: to get news quickly.


NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…


Fantasy football: Johnny Manziel could give your running…

Fantasy football: Johnny Manziel could give your running game a boost


Recharge with a post-workout smoothie from Nicky Hilton

Some people can roll out of bed right as their alarm goes off. And that alarm isn’t set for 20 minutes before they have to…


Colleges are increasingly embracing the concept of gender-neutral…

  Northwestern University recently made headlines after announcing that it would be installing two gender-neutral bathrooms in the university's student center. “These are two gender-open…


How to prepare to interview for your dream…

    Congratulations! You landed a job interview at your dream company! A lot of hard work has gone into determining which companies to apply…


The shirtdress is a summer must-have

  We love throwing on our boyfriend’s shirt and a pair of jeans (no matter how much he grumbles that it’s his turn to wear the…