Alfonso Soriano enjoying being back in a playoff race
BALTIMORE - Alfonso Soriano didn't dwell on whether his fifth-inning throw would have cut down Brian Roberts at the plate if Alex Rodriguez hadn't cut it off. He was due up the next inning and figured he could make up for it.
"I just said, 'OK, one run in, let me get a home run,' " Soriano said after the Yankees' 7-5, come-from-behind victory over the Orioles Tuesday night at Camden Yards. "Let me get it back."
Soriano got that run back with a solo shot in the next inning. His second homer, a two-run shot to right-center in the eighth, gave the Yankees a 6-4 lead.
It was Soriano's seventh multi-home run game this season and his fourth with the Yankees. He has 15 home runs in 43 games since being acquired from the Cubs on July 26. He hit 17 homers in 93 games with Chicago.
"I think the difference is I'm having fun right now," Soriano said. "I'm playing for a team that's a contender in the playoffs. Every game counts, every pitch, every at-bat. We're in the race."
Soriano had not played in a pennant race since 2009 and, since being traded from the Yankees for Rodriguez in 2004, had played on just four winning teams.
"When you go ahead and put yourself into something different, things can spark," said Curtis Granderson, who returned to the lineup a week after Soriano's arrival. "Getting a chance to change some things up and come back to New York is probably a very good thing for him. Change is always a good thing."
Joe Girardi, like many Yankees fans, wasn't keeping tabs on Soriano before his return, but the 37-year-old quietly hit 32 home runs last season.
"I hadn't seen him play in a long time," Girardi said. "I looked up his numbers and he'd hit home runs and swung the bat pretty good . . . But we talk about how big his August was, that's as good as it gets."
Soriano, who hit 11 home runs for the Yankees in August, was keeping track of his old club.
"I followed the Yankees earlier in the season," he said. "They had a lot of injuries. Now with Alex and Granderson and me, you have a better lineup. The pitcher has to work more, especially today. It's very hot and very humid. I think that when starters get tired we get them. After four or five innings, they get a little tired and we pull out big innings."
Of course, he wouldn't dwell on what might have been an ill-advised cutoff in the fifth. The lineup is built to fix early mistakes.
"From leftfield, I thought I had a chance," Soriano said. "But like I said, I didn't have time to see [a replay] because that inning I'd be batting."