Cano swings into great company with 4th ALCS homer

Robinson Cano celebrates in the dugout after his

Robinson Cano celebrates in the dugout after his third-inning homer as the Yankees host the Rangers in Game 5 of the ALCS. (Oct. 20, 2010) (Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams)

The Yankees got their offense going last night in a season-saving 7-2 win over the Texas Rangers in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium.

Curtis Granderson had three hits, including a homer and double, and two RBIs. Nick Swisher homered. Jorge Posada had two hits and an RBI.

Robinson Cano? He didn't need to get going. He was already there.

In his first game as the injured Mark Teixeira's replacement in the third spot in the batting order, Cano hit his fourth home run of the series, going back-to-back with Swisher in the third inning as the Yankees took a 5-0 lead off lefthander C.J. Wilson.

Cano joined fellow AL MVP candidate Josh Hamilton of the Rangers with four home runs in the ALCS. He also became the 25th player in baseball history (and the fifth Yankee) to hit as many as four in one series.

And there's one, possibly two, more games left.

"It's as good as it gets," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Robbie has been big in our lineup all year and he has been big in the postseason. He's swung the bat extremely well, and it just seems like he's getting the barrel of the bat to the ball all the time."

Cano is hitting .421 in the ALCS after going 4-for-12 in the Yankees' sweep of the Twins in the ALDS. Overall, he's 12-for-31 (.387) in the postseason.

"I feel good at the plate, but the bottom line you just won the game," Cano said. "If you didn't win, it doesn't mean anything. So just go out there and win the game. You stay alive and just do anything. I mean, I don't look at my stats right now, how I'm doing. Just go out there and try to win the game."

Cano's homer in the third went to rightfield. He joined Reggie Jackson (1977), Hank Bauer (1958), Lou Gehrig (1928) and Babe Ruth (1926) as the only Yankees to hit four home runs in a postseason series. The others were in the World Series.

"Right now, I'm just trying to focus more than the regular season, because here, you either win or go home," Cano said. "After we won [last season], we know what it feels like to go to the World Series and win a championship, and now I want to go back again and just keep having fun."

To do that, the Yankees will need continued offense from Cano and to stop Hamilton. The Rangers' centerfielder, who went 1-for-4 last night, received an unintentional compliment from Yankees fans when he was announced for his first at-bat: a shower of boos only reserved for a player you fear.

"Two dangerous guys on both sides," Granderson said. "Both teams would be happy to have either one. Both teams are happy to have the guy that they have. You hear the constant MVP chants both here [and] in Texas, it's going to be interesting to see who gets it when it's all said and done. Both of those guys have lived up to what they have done during the course of the 2010 season. Seems like there's no stopping any of those guys."

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