Hot Robinson Cano even impressing mates

Yankees' Robinson Cano follows through on an RBI

Yankees' Robinson Cano follows through on an RBI single against the Baltimore Orioles in the first inning. (June 28, 2013) (Credit: AP)

MINNEAPOLIS -- Robinson Cano acknowledged he's in the midst of the best stretch he's had at the plate this season, but the second baseman also knows there's a shelf life for such things.

"Hopefully I can continue that, but it's baseball,'' Cano said. "You can be hot for a lot of time and then next thing you know, you go into a slump. Hopefully not. And we keep winning games and I keep doing my job with men on base."

Cano has been doing that, and more, of late.

Two home runs and a double in Monday's 10-4 victory over the Twins made Cano 10 for his last 17 with three homers and five RBIs over his previous four games. The 3-for-4 performance made Cano 24-for-65 in his previous 19 games, lifting his average from .272 to .293.

He remained hot Tuesday night, getting two hits in his first four at-bats, including a three-run homer in the seventh that gave the Yankees a 7-1 lead over the Twins.

With the Yankees' offense struggling as it has, the continuation of a red-hot Cano is a must for the Bombers, 43-39 and six games behind the first-place Red Sox entering Tuesday night, to stay afloat in the AL East.

"It's huge," catcher Chris Stewart said. "He's one of the best hitters in baseball when he's feeling it and swinging well. And he's not just pulling the ball. He hit that home run to leftfield, too. Just driving the ball to all parts of the field. It's big for us when he's getting on board and driving runs in."

Cano was quick to point out "it's not about one guy, it was the whole team," making Monday's victory possible, and he's not wrong.

Cano's homers aside, the Yankees still entered the eighth inning trailing 4-3 before erupting for six runs in the final two innings against the Twins bullpen.

"When you get on base, the team can go from there," said Cano, who started the three-run rally in the eighth with a double off Jared Burton. "Lately I've been getting on base, I've been getting men in scoring position and doing my job. That's what you want. I'm the third hitter on the team so you want your fourth, fifth and sixth hitters to find you on base."

Cano's homers, one to dead center and one to left, left his teammates shaking their heads.

"It's impressive, especially when he hits one [to] centerfield in this ballpark," said Andy Pettitte, Monday's starter. "This ballpark plays pretty big, especially out there. And then to go opposite field, it's impressive. Hopefully he can keep it going, but what a talent he is. It's fun to watch him hit and hopefully he can keep it going."

Ichiro Suzuki said what most stands out to him is Cano's ability to hit balls over the entirety of the plate.

"Usually when you have that kind of power, you can't cover as much as he can," Ichiro said. "It's unusual to have a guy with that kind of power be able to cover that much of the plate."

Cano is seeing less pitches to hit than in previous years because pitchers aren't as afraid to walk him, given what's coming up behind him in the Yankee lineup.

Cano said an adjustment he has made, especially against lefthanders, is being more aggressive early.

"Before I was taking one strike, now I'm just getting ready from the first pitch," Cano said. "Just taking advantage of a pitch over the plate."

Sometimes, however, he simply gets nothing, which is OK, too.

"I'm going to be ready for the first pitch," said Cano, who leads the team with 37 walks. "If not, just go to first base."

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