Soriano gets ball again, makes amends

New York Yankees relief pitcher Rafael Soriano throws New York Yankees relief pitcher Rafael Soriano throws during the sixth inning of Game 3. (Oct. 3, 2011) Photo Credit: AP

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DETROIT -- A new day, a new man.

Twenty four hours after putting the Yankees in a 2-1 ALDS hole, Rafael Soriano trotted out from the visitors' dugout at Comerica Park last night and mowed down the competition with efficient ease.

Granted, the reliever was aided tremendously by a full-out, diving catch by Curtis Granderson to end a Tigers' threat in the sixth inning of the Yankees' 10-1, Game 4 win. But Soriano closed the door when needed, successfully bridging the gap between a surprisingly stellar A.J. Burnett and relievers Phil Hughes and Boone Logan.

No one would have blamed Joe Girardi for staying away from Soriano, especially given Monday's results. But the Yankee manager continued to show support for his unpredictable reliever.

"It's interesting, being a catcher, sometimes pitches get second-guessed. That's the bottom line," Girardi said in his pregame news conference, referring to the tie-breaking, solo home run Delmon Young hit off Soriano in the seventh inning of Game 3. "If he hangs a breaking ball and he hits a home run, someone says, 'Why didn't you throw a fastball?'

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"The bottom line is he missed location. That's the human element of the game. Soriano threw the ball, I thought, pretty well [Monday] night. That's going to happen, because you know what, as a pitcher once told me when I went to the mound: They don't have a Nintendo controller in their pocket. There's human error and he just missed the spot."

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Youn turned loose on Soriano's first pitch of the at-bat to break the 4-4 tie. Afterward on TV, Young said his approach against the Yankees had been to look for pitches that are "out over the plate that I could sit back and drive."

Soriano, however, didn't acknowledge that he missed Curtis Martin's glove by a slim margin. Instead, the reliever the Yankees had hoped would be a sure arm out of the bullpen repeatedly said "It was a good pitch" to anyone who would listen.

His words came as no surprise to the small audience assembled before him. Win or lose, blown save or not, the Yankees' $35-million setup man stands by his pitches with astounding and unshakable conviction. And Monday night was no different.

Soriano gave all the credit to Young -- and took none of the blame -- after his 95-mph fastball was blasted into the rightfield seats. Martin defended their approach after the game, saying: "It was a fastball down and away that Delmon just put a good swing on.''

In that situation, we're trying to go to a safe zone down and away and normally that ball doesn't leave, but he caught it square."

With Erik Boland

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