Something has certainly clicked for Alfonso Soriano during his second stint in pinstripes.
Soriano homered twice for the second straight night and drove in a career-high seven runs, giving him a staggering 13 RBIs in two games while powering the suddenly potent New York Yankees to an 11-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday.
”I know it’s not going to happen often,” Soriano said. ”I hope I feel the same way tomorrow.”
Soriano hit an early grand slam and became the third player to knock in at least six runs in back-to-back games since RBIs became an official statistic in 1920, according to STATS. The others were Texas’ Rusty Greer in August 1997 and Milwaukee’s Geoff Jenkins in April 2001.
Soriano needed 144 at-bats to reach 13 RBIs this season with the Chicago Cubs on May 14. Back for another tour with the Yankees, it took him seven trips to the plate over nine innings the past two nights to match that number.
”We just were laughing. That’s unbelievable,” teammate Robinson Cano said. ”That’s every player’s dream.”
Cano went 4 for 4 to pass Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto for 15th place on the franchise hits list, and the Yankees hammered Angels ace Jered Weaver (7-6) in opening an 8-0 cushion by the second inning for Ivan Nova (6-4).
Still looking to make a push in the crowded AL playoff chase, New York won its fourth in a row and will go for a four-game sweep Thursday afternoon.
Soriano hit his fifth career slam in the first, launching a drive onto the protective netting above Monument Park in center field. He added a two-run double with the bases loaded in the second and homered again leading off the fifth. With the crowd of 38,379 chanting his name when he went back out to left field, he lifted his glove to acknowledge the cheers.
Given a chance to do even more damage, Soriano walked with a runner on second in the seventh. He scored for the third time on Chris Stewart’s two-run single.
”It’s pretty incredible what he’s done the last two nights,” Stewart said. ”He’s just kind of bringing life into this whole offense. It seems like when he gets going everybody else kind of ignites, too, and our whole offense clicks. It’s nice having him in there.”
After spending his early years in New York from 1999-2003, the 37-year-old Soriano was reacquired from the Cubs on July 26 to give an injury-depleted lineup a boost. He got off to a slow start upon returning but has certainly turned it on lately.
”Here it’s like, more motivation,” Soriano said. ”All the players, they want to win.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi thinks Soriano has looked more relaxed since he homered Sunday for his 2,000th career hit. The seven-time All-Star agreed, saying his family and friends had put a little pressure on him leading up to the milestone.
He set a career best with six RBIs during New York’s 14-7 win Tuesday and then quickly surpassed the mark one night later.
”He’s got a good month these last two games,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Soriano hit his first grand slam since July 27, 2009, with the Cubs against Houston. It was the third time he’s had successive multihomer games.
He became the seventh player since 1920 with at least 13 RBIs over consecutive games and the first since Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa had 14 in August 2002, STATS said. The record is 15 by Yankees second baseman Tony Lazzeri in May 1936.
”It’s pretty hard to do, I don’t care how well you’re swinging the bat. But it has been huge for us,” Girardi said.
Nova, outstanding since rejoining the rotation on July 5, worked around 10 hits in 7 1-3 innings. He’s been hindered by a lack of run support recently, but that was no problem Wednesday.
”I (haven’t) pitched with a lead like that in a long time,” Nova said.
Weaver’s dud came out of nowhere. The right-hander was 6-1 with a 1.72 ERA in his previous nine starts and had won four straight decisions.
Missing his sharp stuff, he gave up nine runs (matching a career high) and nine hits over five innings as Los Angeles lost its fourth in a row. The reeling Angels have dropped eight of 10 and 14 of 19 overall.
”I think everything was pretty much flat, for the most part. Those guys came out swinging, were hitting balls hard all over the place,” Weaver said. ”You’re going to have some rough games over the course of the season, and I had one tonight.”
NOTES: Mike Trout had two RBI singles and has reached base safely in 36 straight games, the longest current streak in the majors. … Angels LHP C.J. Wilson (12-6, 3.49 ERA) faces RHP Phil Hughes (4-11, 4.99) on Thursday. Wilson, who beat the Yankees 5-2 at home on June 14, is 8-1 with a 2.89 ERA in his last 11 starts. … It was Soriano’s 35th multihomer game and fifth this season. He became the first Yankees player with back-to-back multihomer games since Jason Giambi in August 2005. … New York SS Derek Jeter (strained right calf) took batting practice on the field and will head to the team’s complex in Tampa, Fla., when the Yankees go to Boston for a series that begins Friday. … DH Travis Hafner (strained right rotator cuff) said he expects to be sidelined until at least September. … Cano has 1,590 hits.