BOSTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — Alfonso Soriano walked into a media pack at Fenway Park with a familiar smile, fresh off another big day at the plate. His historic four-game clip has the rest of the Yankees feeling good, too.
Soriano has recently put up eye-popping numbers, providing the power that his New York teammates were missing and helping the Yankees tighten the playoff race.
In his last four games through Friday night’s win at Boston, the 37-year-old Soriano went 13 for 18 with five homers and a record-tying 18 RBIs, becoming just the sixth player to drive in that many during that span.
The huge hits are even more than the Yankees hoped for when they got the good-natured Soriano in a trade with the Chicago Cubs in late July, bringing him back to the organization where he began his major league career in 1999.
“It’s fun to watch the way he’s adjusted right away,” Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano said. “He was in the National League for six years and to come back to the American League and swing the bat the way he is, is unbelievable, especially right when we need him.”
Soriano became the first player with 18 RBIs in four games since Sammy Sosa of the Cubs in August 2002. Before that, it was the Yankees Joe DiMaggio in 1939.
The Yankees acquired Soriano to boost a struggling lineup that was injury-riddled and looked nothing like last year’s team that led the majors with 245 homers.
At the time of the deal, they were next to last in the AL with 88 homers.
In one four-game stretch, he has them thinking about how well they can play.
The Yankees are chasing a wild-card spot. With the Cubs, Soriano was on a team that had one of the worst records in the NL.
“I was having fun,” he said Saturday, sitting at his locker about two hours before the Yankees faced the Red Sox. “But to come back to the Yankees, it’s more fun. It’s back home and makes me feel more comfortable and happy.”
The season didn’t start well for Soriano. He didn’t collect his 18th RBI until the 47th game, getting just two in 26 April games.
Soriano hit .254 with 17 homers with 51 RBIs with the Cubs. Going into Saturday, he was hitting .320 with eight homers and 26 RBIs for the Yankees. He had 397 career home runs.
On Friday night, in a win over the Red Sox, he hit a three-run homer and drove in four runs. It was New York’s fifth win in six games.
“They’re having fun with him. They probably don’t want to see him come out of it, either,” manager Joe Girardi said. “They’re laughing with him and having fun. He’s got a chance to do some damage. That’s the way the guy’s been his whole career — from Day One when we saw him. He’s got a lot of power and that still hasn’t changed.”
Missing injured sluggers Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez for most of the season, the Bronx Bombers’ lineup was limping through much of the season. That is, until Soriano came in and gave them more power behind Cano.
“Of course it’s a big difference,” Cano said. “Now, the last thing the pitcher wants is to face a guy like that. Now you see better pitches. You know the guy behind you is really hot and he can do damage at any time.”
Soriano is just enjoying the ride as much as his teammates.
“They’re happy to see me do what I’m doing,” he said.
And amazed at what he’s done.
“It’s like he’s playing slow-pitch softball,” Rodriguez said following Friday’s win.
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