Alfonso Soriano Continues to Energize Yankees’ Offense As New York Shows Life in Playoff Race

Alfonso SorianoBOSTON — The Yankees still have plenty of work to do before they’re really back in the American League playoff picture. But if they climb into contention, they can thank Alfonso Soriano.

Maybe Soriano will just get a pat on the back, a couple of upgrades to the suite he’s guaranteed on all road trips or one of those gift baskets that Derek Jeter allegedly gives to all of the lady friends who keep him company for a night. But Soriano deserves something for the job that he’s done since joining the Yankees via trade on July 26.

Soriano went deep and drove in four runs as part of the Yankees’ 10-3 win over the Red Sox on Friday. He is now hitting .722 (13-for-18) with five home runs, 18 RBIs and nine runs scored over his last four games. Soriano is one of only six players all time with 18 RBIs in a four-game span, and he is the first Yankees player to collect three hits in four straight games since Johnny Damon in 2006.

To put it lightly, Soriano is carrying the Yankees’ offense.

“You’re looking at a powerful right-handed hitter in the middle of their lineup who’s caught fire since coming over here,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said Friday after his team was victimized by Soriano. “What’s this, 18 RBIs in the last four games for him, a number of home runs and to see what he’s contributed offensively since his arrival. At the time of the trade, just from the outside looking in, you wondered what kind of an impact it’s had, but it’s had an enormous one on their offense.”

Soriano has long been viewed as a somewhat productive player whose massive contract overshadows anything he does on the field. He signed an eight-year, $136 million contract with the Cubs in November 2006, and he has since battled inconsistency while trying to live up to the lucrative deal.

Soriano has caught fire since rejoining the Yankees, though. Since being acquired by New York, the 37-year-old is hitting .320 (24-for-75) with eight home runs, 26 RBIs and 19 runs scored. His five homers and 18 RBIs in his last four games alone are more than any player on the Red Sox since the All-Star break.

Most importantly, the Yankees’ offense suddenly looks energized behind Soriano’s offensive assault. They’ve scored at least 10 runs in three of their last four games after reaching the mark just four times in their first 117 games. And it’s no coincidence that wins have accompanied the offensive uptick.

The Yankees have won five of their last six games, and they’re set to send their top two pitchers, Hiroki Kuroda and CC Sabathia, to the hill in the final two games of their series in Boston. The Yankees still trail the Red Sox by 7 1/2 games and sit six games out of a wild card spot with three teams — the Orioles, Indians and Royals — ahead of them. But even if they come up short this season, it’s clear that the Yanks aren’t going to go quietly.

“I don’t think anyone has written them off by any means,” Farrell said Friday. “We’ve got nine more games remaining against them. They’ve got a completely different look to their lineup than we saw a month ago. They’ve got a lot of life right now.”

The new look and new life can be largely attributed to Soriano’s resurgence since tossing on pinstripes.

Have a question for Ricky Doyle? Send it to him via Twitter at @TheRickyDoyle or send it here.

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