Rafael Soriano is lucky in one regard. More people are talking about the White Sox Brent Lillibridge this morning after the utility player made two spectacular game savings catches in the 9th inning to preserve Chicago's 3-2 win over the Yankees.
Lost in the shuffle was an outstanding 6.1 inning start by Ivan Nova and solo home runs by Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano off of starter Gavin Floyd. Not forgotten by anyone was another poor performance by Soriano. The right-hander who was signed to closer money this past off-season, has averaged nearly two hits and walks per inning and has a bloated 7.94 ERA.
After striking out Alexei Ramirez to start the 8th inning, Soriano hit Carlos Quentin in the shoulder with a breaking pitch. It's possible Lillibridge would have been a defensive replacement for Quentin in the 8th or 9th inning, but it became a certainty when he pinch-ran for the right fielder. Soriano then grooved a pitch down the middle of the plate to Paul Konerko, who launched it into the left field seats for a 3-2 Chicago lead.
As they did the night before, the Yankees got the lead off man on in the 9th, this time on a Derek Jeter infield single. Curtis Granderson successfully bunted the captain into scoring position to set things up for Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez. Matt Thornton walked Teixeira to put two men aboard and prompted Ozzie Guillen to call on Sergio Santos to face A-Rod. The DH in last night's game, Rodriguez hit a laser to the right field wall. Lillibridge raced back and made an outstretched catch to take away an extra base hit for the second out of the inning.
Before fans could get over the outfield thievery, Cano ripped a line drive that was destined to be a game tying hit, but Lillibridge made a full out dive to stab the ball before hit the ground. Just like that the game was over, but this morning Yankees' fans are still sitting with their mouths agape. And somewhere Jack Buck is yelling, "I can't believe what I just saw."