Yankees sticking with Rafael Soriano in eighth inning setup role despite 7.84 ERA

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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.

Phillies walk off winners thanks to a poor decision by Marcell Ozuna

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The Phillies’ bullpen, which has not been good as of late, gift-wrapped Monday’s game for the Cardinals. Starter Nick Pivetta was brilliant, fanning 13 while allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. But things unraveled after he left the game. Victor Arano took over for Edubray Ramos to start the ninth inning with the Phillies leading 4-2, but he allowed a one-out single and a double. After striking out Harrison Bader, Arano appeared to strike out Yairo Munoz for the final out of the game, but the ball trickled through the legs of catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing a run to score and the tying run to move to third base. Lefty Adam Morgan came in to face pinch-hitter Kolten Wong. Wong tied the game up, sneaking a single into center field.

In the 10th inning, Jake Thompson gave up the go-ahead run on a leadoff home run to Tommy Pham. It seemed like it was just going to be another one of those losses that have become increasingly common for the Phillies lately. But the Phillies’ offense didn’t go down quietly, even though it hadn’t put a runner on second base since the start of the second inning when J.P. Crawford doubled. In the bottom half of the 10th, Hoskins blooped a single into shallow left-center to start the inning. Hoskins moved to second base on a ground out from Odubel Herrera. Matt Bowman intentionally walked Carlos Santana, then struck out Jesmuel Valentin. That brought up Aaron Altherr, who replaced Nick Williams after Williams took a baseball to the face off of the right field fence. Bowman fell behind 2-1, then threw a 90 MPH fastball that Altherr lined into left field. Rather than keep the ball in front of him, Marcell Ozuna decided to dive for the ball to make the final out, but he missed. The ball trickled past him, allowing the tying and the game-winning runs to score, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win.

On the list of people happy to see Ozuna miss that ball are Altherr (of course), Arano, Morgan, and Thompson. But perhaps no one was happier than manager Gape Kapler. The win might help take the heat off of him somewhat after another poor performance from the bullpen. When a team struggles, everyone wants a scapegoat and Kapler is an easy target. He has been all year, undeservingly.

Phillies radio broadcaster and former major league reliever Larry Anderson said after the bullpen meltown, “Not everybody can pitch in the ninth inning. And I know Gabe Kapler thinks they can, but they can’t.” Aside from Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez (who was unavailable after throwing 52 pitches between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee), no one in that bullpen has been reliable. The closer, Hector Neris, just got optioned to Triple-A. You work with what you have, and right now, Kapler doesn’t have a whole lot. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t punished with another loss thanks to Ozuna.