Since he took over as the New York Yankees closer, Rafael Soriano has steadily gained more and more confidence and has provided fans with his signature post-save ‘untuck’ of his jersey often times looking downright vicious in doing so. Unfortunately, the jersey stayed neatly inside his pants last night as Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Colby Rasmus got the better of him with a two-out three-run homer which erased a two-run Bomber lead.
Soriano is now 33-for-36 in save chances since taking over for David Robertson when he went on the disabled list in May. Soriano is an experienced closer so none of this should be much of a surprise, other than the fact that he didn’t perform up to his standards last season as a set-up man in the first year of a three-year contract worth $35 million.
This year he’s a totally different pitcher. He does allow a few too many base runners at times, but he never shows any concern and typically has worked out of any trouble he’s created. He couldn’t do that last night as Rasmus drilled a slider that didn’t get in enough into the second deck in right.
In the bottom of the ninth, Derek Jeter lead off with his 14th home run of the season off Toronto closer Casey Janssen tying the game at seven. Janssen got the next three batters to send the game into extra innings.
Clay Rapada and Derek Lowe worked a scoreless tenth as did Darren Oliver for the Blue Jays. In the top of the 11th, Lowe tried a pickoff attempt at first, but threw the ball away allowing pinch-runner Mike McCoy to get to third base with on one out. Adeiny Hechavarria grounded softly to a charging Jayson Nix at third base who threw to first and Eric Chavez‘s relay to Russell Martin at home was late scoring McCoy. Oliver worked around a one-out walk in the bottom of the eleventh to secure the 8-7 victory for the Jays.
The Yankees scored six runs through the first five innings highlighted by two solo homers from Robinson Cano and a two-run shot by Nick Swisher. Yankees starter David Phelps was in line for the win after 6 1/3 innings of four-run ball. He allowed five hits, but two homers, and walked one while striking out seven. Cody Eppley finished off the seventh and new father Robertson tossed a scoreless eighth to get the ball to Soriano.
With the loss the Yankees (74-54) lead in the American League East is now 3.5 games over the Baltimore Orioles who topped the Chicago White Sox. The Tampa Bay Rays remain four back after losing to the Texas Rangers. As if the loss wasn’t enough, the Yankees will also be without first baseman Mark Teixeira for one to two weeks after he exited with a strained left calf as the injury roller coaster continues in the Bronx.
Tonight Phil Hughes (12-11, 4.15 ERA) takes the ball hoping he does not duplicate his last effort against the Jays in which he gave up seven runs in four innings on August 12. The Blue Jays trot out Ricky Romero (8-11, 5.63 ERA) who is in the midst of a personal ten-game losing streak.