Rays Ruin Soriano's Return in Win Over Yankees • Latino Sports

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Rays Ruin Soriano’s Return in Win Over Yankees

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Yankee Stadium, the Bronx- The long line for tickets was in full force thirty minutes before game time. A throng of navy stretched from the opening of the 161st/River Avenue train station and well past the gates of Yankee Stadium, all for a chance to see Alfonso Soriano back in pinstripes for the first time since 2003.

It did not matter that the New York Yankees were in the midst of trying to gain a footing in a crowded American League East, or that their opponent, the Tampa Bay Rays, had won 19 of their last 22 games, trotting out starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson, a lights-out performer in his last 10 outings.

No, the fans were in line because the sentimental value of seeing Soriano, a player who appeared to be a key cog at second base back in the early part of the previous decade was perhaps enough to help them rinse out the bad taste of a season that has gone askew.

Soriano did not exactly deliver a highlight reel, going 0-for-5 with one run scored in a 10-6 loss to the Rays, but every at-bat also elicited the loudest of cheers from a solid crowd of 44,186.

“It was great, a good day for me, to put this uniform on again, [was] a very exciting moment for me,” said Soriano in the clubhouse after the game.

His name was chanted from the highest row ten minutes before game-time, and moments after the bleachers took their daily roll call, Soriano strode along left-field to catch a Desmond Jennings fly-ball for the first out of the game.

Soriano, back in his familiar No. 12 jersey [having traded with Vernon Wells] led off the top of the second inning with the Yankees in a 6-0 hole.

The masses applauded the way a late night television show would, hooting and hollering, and waving signs that read, ‘Welcome home Soriano,’ but the Yankees new outfielder [his second baseman days behind him] took a Hellickson offering and belted it straight up in the air, popping out to center.

The Rays continued to find new ways to give Soriano opportunities to play hero. Having initially led 6-0 by hitting everything that Yankees’ starting pitcher CC Sabathia left up and over the plate in a six-run second inning, Tampa loaded the bases with Soriano at-bat in the bottom of the ninth inning leading 10-5.

Still able to make the dirt fly out of the batters box, Soriano reached first base safely on a fielders-choice, enabling Brett Gardner to score from third base to help the Yankees get within four runs at 10-6.

The Rays got their biggest hit in the top of the seventh inning, although at the time, with a 7-1 lead it did not appear to be the case. It ended up being the difference maker in the game however, as James Loney blasted his 10th home run of the season, a three-run shot off relief pitcher Adam Warren into right-field a few rows back of the Sony sign that gave the Rays a 10-1 advantage, with rookie Wil Myers and pinch-hitter Matt Joyce scoring on the homer.

Loney now leads all Major League batters with a .365 road batting average this season.

Hellickson is now 10-3 with the win, as the right-hander tossed six innings, giving up one earned run off four hits with three strikeouts to extend his career-high winning streak to six games.

Sabathia picked up the loss, dropping his record to 9-9 overall, as the power pitcher went five innings surrendering seven earned runs off nine hits, with six strikeouts, losing his third straight decision in the process.

“He was up tonight. Slider up, change-up up, up in the zone. They didn’t miss,” said Yankees’ skipper Joe Girardi of Sabathia’s rough second inning. “It’s pretty rare. You don’t see it very often, it’s shocking,” added Girardi on seeing an ace go through a rough stretch.

For the first time in his career, Sabathia has now allowed seven earned runs in three consecutive starts, the only pitcher this season to do so, and the first Yankee since Chien Ming Wang did so back in 2009.

“I’m upset, especially since we’ve been battling” said Sabathia. “Getting no help from me has been tough.”

About Oren Vourman