Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano has homered in three consecutive games and raised his batting average to .325 with a recent hot stretch.
As Alfonso Soriano walked to the plate in the sixth inning of the Cubs' 10-5 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks Sunday, the crowd rose as one to give the left fielder a rousing standing ovation.
This, of course, was in stark contrast to the treatment he received last homestand when the Wrigley Field faithful serenaded him with a chorus of boos.
An offensive explosion will do that to a crowd.
With his two-homer, four-RBI day in the series finale, Soriano continued his recent torrid hitting streak that has seen him go from public enemy No. 1 at Clark and Addison to seemingly everyone's favorite Cub.
"What a nice day he had," said manager Lou Piniella, whose team reached .500 after taking the final three games against Arizona. "His at-bats were all really good and productive. He really looks locked in at home plate."
Soriano has driven in 10 runs over the Cubs' last three games and his 24th career multi-homer game was the third consecutive contest in which he's gone deep. For Piniella, it was the swings he didn't take that revealed the most.
"Today, he took pitches really, really well," he said. "For me, that's a good tell-tale sign of hitter. When you can take pitches out of the strike zone, to me, it means you're seeing the ball really well and you're staying on it."
A notorious free swinger, Soriano has been working with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo to keep the lower half of his body calm. The recent results speak for themselves.
"That's a major difference," Piniella said. "You can see that he's seeing the ball much better because he's not chasing. He's zoning in."
"I feel very comfortable at home plate," Soriano said. "I'm a better hitter when I swing at strikes. Rudy works a lot with me. I'm working hard with him in the cage and I feel so comfortable at home plate because of the work I do with him."
A day after first baseman Derrek Lee suggested that Soriano's injury problems last year were much more severe than most people realized, the red-hot left fielder seemed more content to enjoy the moment than dwell on the past.
"I don't like to make excuses in this game" he said. "Whatever happened last year, it was 2009. Now it's 2010 and I'm happy the way I play and happy the way my body feels today."