ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Alfonso Soriano’s 37-year-old arms have provided some needed punch in the month he’s been with the Yankees.
His legs, not what they once were but still capable, gave the club a huge lift yesterday.
The outfielder stole third in a daring attempt after a one-out double in the 11th inning, a play that led to the winning run, and had everyone talking, in the Yankees’ 3-2 victory over the Rays in front of a sellout crowd of 34,078 at Tropicana Field.
“That was amazing,” said Robinson Cano, who went 3-for-5 with a homer and two RBI. “That was the game.”
Rays manager Joe Maddon agreed.
“We just can’t permit the stolen base at third,” he said. “That’s really what caused the win for them.”
Soriano started the deciding rally against Rays’ righthander Jamey Wright with a double down the left field line.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi gave Soriano, who three times has surpassed 40 stolen bases in a season but not since 2006, the green light. With Curtis Granderson at the plate, Soriano took off first pitch and made it, just beating the catcher’s throw as he slid in. Granderson’s long fly ball to center brought Soriano in to make it 3-2.
“Not really a good jump,” said Soriano, who later admitted “I don’t have the speed I used to have.”
Girardi, not yet with a sense of Soriano’s speed having only managed him about four weeks, didn’t have an initial positive reaction upon seeing the jump.
“I kind of went, ‘uh-oh,’” Girardi said. “But he’s a base stealer, he doesn’t have fear and he has an idea of what he’s doing.”
And a plan.
Soriano, who went 2-for-5 in the game, said he planned to watch a pitch or two before stealing. But he changed his mind when Wright looked back at him twice before throwing his first pitch to Granderson.