Alfonso Soriano carries Yankees to another blowout win
The Yankees still have some work to do to fully climb back into the playoff race but it appears one aspect of their game has returned.
The term “Bronx Bombers,” which was starting not to apply to this year’s edition, was back with a vengeance the past two nights against the Angels.
Whether it was the bats themselves or the opponent, now is not the time for the Yankees to nitpick the reasons. Instead they hope it can produce a run, especially with 30 of the next 34 games coming against divisional opponents and 5 1/2 games separating them from the second wild-card spot.
Alfonso Soriano remained locked in with a two-home run and career-high seven RBI night in an 11-3 rout of ace Jered Weaver and the Angels.
“It’s not bad,” Soriano said. “You don’t see those days so I have to take those days. It’s not easy. Sometimes you only get one [RBI] in one game and I got 13 in two games, so I’m very excited, very happy.”
“It’s been amazing,” designated hitter Curtis Granderson said. “The guy’s swinging a great bat.”
Soriano followed up his six-RBI showing from Tuesday by displaying three swings against Weaver that further gave the impression of someone who looks locked in.
“That’s pretty hard to do,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I don’t care how well you’re swinging the bat. To have 13 RBI in two days is really hard but it’s been huge for us.”
“My 2,000th hit helped me a lot because after that I feel relaxed because I have my family and friends. Before I get my 2,000th, [I was thinking], ‘When am I going to get my 2,000th [hit]?’” Soriano said. “They put a little pressure on me but thank God that I did it and now it’s like I can play the game more relaxed.”
In three games since getting the milestone with a home run of Detroit ace Justin Verlander, Soriano is 6-for-12 with four home runs and 13 RBIs.
Soriano also became the third player to have at least six RBI in consecutive games since it became an official statistic in 1920. The others were Rusty Greer for Texas in 1997 and Geoff Jenkins for Milwaukee in 2001.
He began his 35th multi-home run game by driving a 0-1 fastball over the center field wall in the first inning. An inning later, he roped a first-pitch fastball into center field for a two-run double, tying the career high he set less than 24 hours ago.
It took Soriano two pitches to surpass that. He led off the sixth by turning on a 1-0 fastball and sending it well over the left-field fence, giving the Yankees a 9-3 lead.
Soriano’s two home runs gave the Yankees 106 for the season. They are on pace for 144 but the Yankees have homered in their last five games and have 18 home runs in the last 14 games after being held without one in nine straight games from July 19-27 — the longest stretch since 1984.
“It’s just another big bat in the middle and it’s very productive,” Girardi said. “It could mean a lot.”
The Yankees reached double figures in runs for the fifth time and won their fourth straight. That is their longest streak since opening July with six straight wins.
“You want to just continue with this momentum,” Girardi said. “We know we have our work cut out for us but we’re playing a lot of teams that are in front of us. We’re in our division a lot going down the stretch here and [we will] try to ride this as long as you can.”
In between winning streaks, the Yankees dropped 18 of 28 games, putting themselves in danger of falling under .500, though they said the mood has remained positive despite the gloom many fans have felt.
“We’ve been positive but when you’re winning, it’s more fun,” Cano said.
The display by the bats gave the pitching some wiggle room.
Ivan Nova was not great but he didn’t have to be, allowing three runs and 10 hits in 7 1/3 innings on a night when the Yankees essentially locked up a win before the sun set.
“I don’t pitch with a lead like that for a long time,” Nova said. “It feels good.”
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.