Nothing is better than relaxing after a hard days work. When Rafael Soriano records the final out of a ballgame, he lets loose. He untucks his jersey, signifying the end of the work day, another save and another Yankees win. The sight has become something that most Yankee fans look for at the end of the game.
Many thought that giving a lot of money to Soriano before last season was a mistake. How could you pay a seventh inning guy that kind of money? Well, as it turns out, Soriano has stabilized a bullpen that has seen many injuries in 2012 (David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain and of course Mariano Rivera). Soriano has maybe saved the Yankees season as well. He has closing experience, and recording the final three outs of a baseball game are the hardest outs to get – ask David Robertson (two blown saves in two chances this year). It takes a certain kind of person to close a game, and Soriano appears to have what it takes to do it in New York.
So far this year, Soriano is 2-0 with a 1.78 ERA, and more importantly, has converted 18 saves in 19 chances. Statistically, he is on pace for one of the best seasons as a closer in his career. In 2010, he closed for the Tampa Bay Rays, and had a league-leading 45 saves with a 1.73 ERA. Although he averages a hit per inning (30 hits in 30.1 innings), Soriano always manages to shutdown the other team – his ability to strike guys out contributes to that greatly (28 k’s).
In his last 10 appearances that have spanned nine innings, Soriano has given up just one earned run while striking out nine batters. His only blown save of the season came against the Mets in the Bronx finale of the subway series on June 10, a game in which the Yankees ended up winning 5-4 on a Russell Martin walk-off home run. In that game, Soriano recorded one out and gave up one run on three hits. The last time Soriano gave up a run was a whole month prior to that outing, on May 10 against Tampa Bay.
Tonight, Soriano and the Yankees will start a three-game series against the Rays down in Tampa. Soriano has been, well, practically untouchable on the road this season. Actually, the majority of Soriano’s saves have come on the road. In 17 games away from the Bronx this year, he is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA and has 15 strikeouts in 17 innings. Soriano has held opponents to a .197 batting average.
The Bombers want to finish the first half of the season strong, as they embark on a seven-game road trip that ends in Boston over the weekend. The Yankees and their fans hope that they see Soriano untuck his jersey a lot over the months to come as October approaches.