One night after Alfonso Soriano homered twice and drove in six runs during New York's 14-7 win over Los Angeles (53-66), he hit two more and had a career-high seven RBIs in Wednesday's 11-3 victory. Prior to going 6 for 9 in the last two contests, Soriano hit .193 (11 for 57) with three homers and eight RBIs in his first 15 games since the Yankees (62-57) reacquired him from the Chicago Cubs last month. The 37-year-old Soriano, who hit a first-inning grand slam off Jered Weaver on Wednesday, joins Texas' Rusty Greer (1997) and Milwaukee's Geoff Jenkins (2001) as the only players with at least six RBIs in back-to-back games since 1920. The recent power surge by the suddenly upstart and wildcard contending Yankees made Soriano quote the resurrection relevant to 10 years ago feeling 'once again seemingly like old times' around the Bronx.
The Yankees (62-57) have been playing above expectations all season and despite losing 17 of 26 dropping them to just a game over .500, they've turned things around and captured 5 of their last 6. Looking to sweep the 4 game series against the Angels, Phil Hughes (4-11 4.99) will try to break a personal 4 game losing streak over his last 6 starts. During that stretch his ERA is 6.43. Hughes last time out allowed 4 runs on 9 hits in just 4 innings of a 9-3 loss to Detroit last Sunday. Well before the ASB Hughes was the center of trade rumors and recently expressed his displeasure of a disappointing 2013 season in pinstripes. Hughes however has plenty of time to turn things around especially if the Yanks can make a run at the postseason.
This afternoon Hughes faces an Anaheim lineup who despite hitting .265 collectively and averaging nearly 4.6 runs per game has been decimated by injuries and ineffective pitching. They do have some clout on the team as evident by their 125 HR, but other than just before the ASB haven't had much of a consistent run. Mike Trout (.330 21 78) leads the club in hitting and RBI ranking econd behind Miguel Cabrera (.360) in the AL. Mark Trumbo (.237 28 76) leads the halos in HR but has floundered numerous scoring opportunities leaving RISP as evident by his 132 K's in just 464 AB's. Howie Kendrick (.301 11 47) and Erick Aybar (.282 4 40) continue to provide clutch hitting as the latter is returning this afternoon from a calf injury. Albert Pujols (.258 17 64) remains in a walking boot due to a plantar fascia condition but will not require surgery. Josh Hamilton (.226 17 57) is going through one of his least effective overall seasons surrounding off the field issues contributing to his demise.
Anaheim counters with CJ Wilson (12-6 3.49) who has been rather effective against the Yankees over the past few seasons. Wilson's been one of the few bright spots for the otherwise inefficient pitching staff winning his last 4 decisions. His last start saw CJ give up just 2 runs on 7 hits over 5 IP in a 7-2 win at Cleveland on Saturday. Wilson faces a Yankees lineup that has caught fire scoring 25 runs over the last 2 games after NY held on for a 2-1 nail biter in the opener Monday night. Next to last in all offensive categories, the Yankees are hitting .243 overall with 106 HR and averaging under 4 runs per game. Chalk it up to key players like Derek Jeter, Mark Texeira Curtis Granderson suffering injuries along with the controversy surrounding Alex Rodriguez. Robinson Cano (.297 22 74) has gone through some positive and rough stretches without protection in the lineup. Cano is scheduled to become a free agent in 2014 and could still put up season ending numbers comparable to average. Brett Gardner (.271 8 39) has shown some pop right out of the leadoff spot while remaining injury free leading the club with 20 steals. Ichiro Suzuki (.276 6 27) at 39 is approaching 4,000 hits on a major league level split by his time playing in Japan and in the states. The acquisition off Soriano (.255 24 72) has given this team reason to believe after little was expected before the start of the season. Lyle Overbay (.250 13 50) has done a great job in Texiera's absence, but guys like Vernon Wells (.245 11 40) have been major disappointments as has been Travis Hafner (.205 12 37) who is out of action with a strained rotator cuff. Eduardo Nunez (.229 1 17) has also underachieved while suffering from occasional injury and if there's a legitimate achille's heel in this bunch it's a weak bench.
We get a good price this afternoon in a park known to be a launching pad especially in the daytime as evident by it's short porch in right field and close dimensions in left. The Angels despite missing Pujols and falling out of postseason contention are still stacked with offense, and might be able to salvage the finale this afternoon to avoid the collar sweep against a struggling Hughes. While the Yankees could easily provide Hughes with ample run support, Wilson may need to mix up his pitches and be a bit more careful since the offense has resurrected over the past few games. Best of luck however you play!