Rafael Soriano had another ugly outing last night, blowing an eighth-inning lead and taking a loss while allowing two runs against the White Sox.
He now has a 7.84 ERA on the season, allowing nine runs in 10.1 innings, and has already walked eight batters after issuing a grand total of just 14 free passes in 62.1 innings last year.
However, manager Joe Girardi said after the game that the Yankees will stick with Soriano as their eighth-inning setup man in front of closer Mariano Rivera:
You’ve got to fight your way out of it. You keep using the guys. You get them on track. I haven’t lost any confidence in Rafael Soriano. This is a very good pitcher that just happened to give up a two-run homer. It’s a different animal here. Some guys come in and the transition is easy. Other guys, it can be difficult. I haven’t found the transition to be really difficult for him, I just think at times he hasn’t thrown great this year. I haven’t seen anything to tell me he can’t handle it.
I tend to agree with Girardi. Soriano has been a mess so far, but ultimately having a terrible 10-inning stretch doesn’t doom him for the entire season and he’s been too good for too long to think things won’t eventually get on track as long as he’s not pitching through some kind of an injury (his velocity is down compared to 2010, but only slightly).
Not only did Soriano save 45 games with a 1.73 ERA and .163 opponents’ batting average last season for the Rays, he has a 2.86 ERA in 405 career innings. This isn’t some mediocre pitcher who got lucky in a flukishly great season and is now coming back to down to earth. He’s one of the best, most dominant relievers of the past decade and is simply having an awful first month in New York. Or so the Yankees hope, since they’ve invested $35 million over three years in Soriano.
Royals’ right-hander Yordano Ventura was pulled in the fifth inning of Saturday’s matinee against the Tigers with an apparent injury. After throwing four pitches to start the fifth and serving up a Justin Upton double, Ventura was visited on the mound by head trainer Nick Kenney. Per Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star, he’s day-to-day with back spasms and lower back tightness.
It’s just another bump in the road for the defending champions, who currently sit 6.5 games back of a postseason spot with seven left to play. Through 176 innings in 2016, Ventura posted a 4.35 ERA and 1.2 fWAR, a considerable downgrade from the 4.08 ERA and 2.7 fWAR he contributed during last season’s championship year despite a moderate bounce-back in the second half.
Prior to his early exit from Saturday’s game, Ventura went four innings for the Royals, giving up three runs on 10 hits and two walks and striking out six of 24 batters faced.
If you’re looking to rep the red and royal blue this October, you best get your gear inside the ballpark. According to Lauren Zumbach of the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs have sought a court order that would allow them to seize unauthorized merchandise being hawked outside of Wrigley Field. That includes shirts with taglines like “Just One Before I Die” and apparel depicting a blue flag with a white “W.”
[The Cubs] received a trademark for “W” flags, but a trademark for use on apparel is pending. Deeming a letter of the alphabet worthy of a trademark might seem like a stretch, but around Wrigley, everyone knows what that particular W in that particular color combination means, [intellectual property attorney Douglas Masters] said.
While seven vendors have been named in the suit, the Cubs have a list of 30 more whom they suspect of trademark infringement, including retailers who primarily operate online.
Back in 2013, the Cubs ran into a similar issue when a fan dressed as alternative mascot Billy the Cub and made multiple appearances on game days outside the park. After six years in the role, Billy the Cub was ordered to cease and desist his ballpark activities by the team.
This time, however, Billy’s tip jar pales in comparison to the revenue unauthorized sellers stand to reap over the next two months. With the playoffs just around the corner and playoff merchandise sales in full swing, quashing the competition (both on the field and off) will be top priority in weeks to come.
The club’s full complaint can be found here.