Maybe Brian Cashman was right.
And maybe Joe Girardi was wrong.
As for Rafael Soriano, he was just plain bad.
The reliever the Yankees signed to a $35 million deal to the chagrin of Cashman, got the call in the eighth inning last night from Girardi. He promptly imploded in his third appearance in pinstripes, blowing a four-run lead in the Yankees’ 5-4 loss in 10 innings to the Twins.
“I’m going to go to my eighth-inning guy,” Girardi said. “If you can get in a situation where you don’t have to use your closer, that’s how you get to not using your closer. I have a 41-year-old closer down there, so if there are nights I can give him off; I’m going to try to get him a night off. By going to Soriano, that’s what you do.”
And when he went to Soriano, Girardi watched his eighth-inning guy’s fastball and slider command disappear. He issued three free passes in just 2/3 of an inning, including walking home Minnesota’s first run.
“He was just struggling with his command a little bit,” catcher Russell Martin said of Soriano, who didn’t face reporters. “He had a hard time with his fastball and that’s really all it is. He got himself in trouble; it’s not like they whacked him around.”
Martin was correct and the Twins did not whack around David Robertson, who was a pitch away from preserving the 4-1 lead against Delmon Young. Instead, Young blooped a full-count fastball into short right field out of the reach of right fielder Nick Swisher, who had to race in since he was playing a no-doubles defense.
“I came in there just flying in there trying to make the play,” Swisher said. “I got there and realized I wasn’t going to make it, but I was already halfway into a slide.
“In that situation, it was an aggressive mistake. Obviously, in hindsight, I wish I would have kept the ball in front of me.”
In hindsight many would have wished Girardi did not go to Soriano in that situation and allowed CC Sabathia to begin the eighth, especially when he had retired 17 in a row and allowed just two hits.
“At this point in the season, he’s over 100 pitches and we have to be smart about him,” Girardi said. “We’ve got a long ways to go; this isn’t August or September, this is April
Sabathia was fine with the decision even though his dominant night went to waste when Soriano set career highs for walks and when Boone Logan gave up Mauer’s single through a drawn-in infield in the 10th that scored the go-ahead run.
Of course, Soriano’s ineffectiveness was not the only Yankee problem.
As nice as 13 home runs in five games has been for the offense, it seemed to halt after Mark Teixeira hit a three-run home run batting right-handed in the first and, after Andruw Jones hit a solo shot in the second off Brian Duensing.
After those two blasts, the Yankees had two more hits the rest of the way and ended the first night of second-guessing when Derek Jeter struck out against Joe Nathan.
“It seemed like Duensing kind of settled in and had us in front the rest of the night,” Girardi said. “We weren’t able to tack on and that keeps them in the ballgame.”