Rafael Soriano Gives Twins Their Groove Back

Soriano's first stumble costs Yankees game in eighth inning.

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    The reaction was worse than the performance.

    Rafael Soriano should be happier for Chris Young of the Mets than just about anyone else.

    Young's big night in Philly earned him back page headlines and meant that Soriano's eighth inning meltdown against the Twins was relegated to a lesser spot in the tabloids. So we'll have to wait for the headling "Sorry Oh No!" that we all know is coming at some point this summer.

    Soriano took over for CC Sabathia with the Yankees leading 4-0 and the game looking like it would be the latest blow in the one-sided war between the Bombers and the Twins. It turned out quite differently, though, as Soriano walked three batters including one with the bases loaded to force in a run.

    David Robertson came in at that point, but a bloop double by Delmon Young greeted him and cleared the bases for a tie game. Joe Mauer won it with a run-scoring single off of Boone Logan in the 10th and, for one night at least, the Twins found a way to overcome the Yankee hex that's bedeviled them for years.

    As you'd expect, the expensive setup man's failure to hold onto a big lead led to a bit of a firestorm once the game was over. Joe Girardi joined his pitcher on the firing line. 

    When asked why he turned to Soriano with a big lead one night after he'd thrown 19 pitches and said his velocity wasn't where he wanted it to be, Girardi said that he did it because Soriano is his "eighth-inning guy." When asked why he pulled him with the bases loaded under that criteria, Girardi shifted gears and said he wasn't going to blow out Soriano's arm to win an April game. 

    You can't have it both ways, especially if you're going to push the silly notion that Soriano has to pitch just because it is the eighth inning. If you think he's the guy for the job at 4-0 with no outs, then he's the guy for the job at 4-1 with the bases loaded and two outs. 

    That's small potatoes compared to Soriano's own response, however. He blew out of the locker room before reporters were allowed in for a chat, earning him stiff rebukes in the press and adding to the whispers that he's not fit for action in New York.

    All of this went down in front of the smallest crowd in the history of the new Yankee Stadium. It's the fourth straight game that the number has dropped to a new low.

    There are plenty of explanations for the low turnout, which is, of course, very relative when you see some of the other attendance figures around the league. There's the weather, the economy, the lack of appropriate signage on the trains for the scoreboard subway race, ridiculously high prices at parking garages and the unsuitability of onion ring packaging for use in catching foul balls.

    We'll have to wait and see if this is a blip or a full-fledged trend, although you have to imagine some around the team are already worrying about the downward trajectory. All things considered, it's a more justified fear than any misgivings about Soriano.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.