POSTED: 2:23 a.m. HST, Aug 15, 2013
NEW YORK » During the New York Yankees' four-game losing streak last week, their playoff chances appeared buried. In fact, several statistical websites said their chances stood at less than 5 percent.
They struggled to hit, and Alfonso Soriano, their new acquisition, appeared lost at the plate. Their ace, C.C. Sabathia, was mired in one of the worst slumps of his career.
Manager Joe Girardi frequently said it would be difficult for the Yankees to get back into contention. And on top of it all, Alex Rodriguez rejoined the team, which created a seemingly monstrous distraction at an inopportune time. The 2013 season was to end up being the Yankees' most anticlimactic year in quite some time.
Yet when Soriano struck a fly ball to center field with the bases loaded in the first inning Wednesday night, it did not seem so far-fetched that this season could be saved. The ball carried and carried, and Soriano stood at home plate watching its flight.
Finally, the ball fell over the fence for a grand slam, and the Yankees were well on their way to an 11-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels, their second consecutive blowout.
The victory was the Yankees' fourth straight, and the surge has given their once-bleak playoff chances a jolt of life. Even more fortunate is that the timing of their streak has coincided with slumps by the Tampa Bay Rays and the Baltimore Orioles.
"I've said all along that this club has been pretty resilient," Girardi said. "This is a pretty strong-minded group is what it says to me."
The Yankees, who rank near the bottom of the majors in nearly every important offensive statistic, have scored 25 runs in two games, and they mostly have Soriano to thank. In two days, Soriano has done the unthinkable: he has made Alex Rodriguez's at-bats an afterthought.
On Tuesday, Soriano hit two home runs and drove in a career-high six runs, a feat he bettered on Wednesday, when he knocked in seven runs and hit two more homers.
"I hope I stay like this a couple more weeks," Soriano said. "I know it's not going to happen. It's something I want to remember. I've played for 15 years; I don't remember these types of games."
Nationals 6, Giants 5
WASHINGTON » Denard Span made a diving catch in deep center field with two runners on base for the final out and Washington held off San Francisco for its fifth straight victory.
Reds 5, Cubs 0
CHICAGO » Bronson Arroyo pitched seven crisp innings, Todd Frazier homered and Cincinnati beat Chicago to complete a three-game series sweep.
Pirates 5, Cardinals 1
ST. LOUIS » Francisco Liriano was dominant coming off the worst outing of his career and Pittsburgh got home runs from Pedro Alvarez and Garrett Jones in a victory over St. Louis.
Rockies 4, Padres 2
DENVER » Jorge De La Rose pitched seven solid innings, catcher Yorvit Torrealba completed a remarkable double play by tagging out two runners and Colorado hung on to beat San Diego.
Braves 6, Phillies 3
ATLANTA » Chris Johnson drove in three runs, Jason Heyward homered and Brandon Beachy pitched six strong innings to help Atlanta beat the Philadelphia.
Blue Jays 4, Red Sox 3, 10 innings
TORONTO » Brett Lawrie singled home the winning run in the 10th inning and Toronto handed AL East-leading Boston its fourth loss in six games.
Tigers 6, White Sox 4
CHICAGO » Miguel Cabrera hit a towering three-run homer and Detroit ended a three-game skid with a win over Chicago.
Rays 5, Mariners 4
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. » Jason Bourgeois's RBI single capped Tampa Bay's two-run rally in the ninth inning and the Rays ended a six-game losing streak with a win over Seattle.
Indians 9, Twins 8, 12 innings
MINNEAPOLIS » Michael Brantley hit a sacrifice fly in the 12th inning and Cleveland rallied past Minnesota for just its third win in the last 10 games.
Astros 2, Athletics 1, 11 innings
OAKLAND, Calif. » Carlos Corporan hit an RBI double in the 11th inning, lifting Houston over Oakland. The A's have dropped nine of 13 and fell two games behind first-place Texas in the West.
Rangers 5, Brewers 4
ARLINGTON, Texas » Elvis Andrus broke out of a slump with two hits and two RBIs, and Texas rallied for three runs in the seventh inning to beat Milwaukee.
Marlins 5, Royals 2
KANSAS CITY, Mo. » Justin Ruggiano snapped a franchise-worst 0-for-42 slump with a single in the first inning and added two more hits and drove in a run as Miami beat Kansas City.
Diamondbacks 5, Orioles 4, 14 innings
PHOENIX » Aaron Hill had a game-ending single with one out in the 14th inning to give Arizona its third straight walk-off win over Baltimore.