As his two no-doubt home runs began their journeys into the Yankee Stadium night, Robinson Cano twice stood at home plate and admired his work.
Baseball purists may howl if they wish. But Cano had a lot to be proud of Wednesday night.
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The Yankees' second baseman had four hits, including a pair of two-run home runs, and had six RBIs to continue an absurdly hot batting streak as the Yankees clubbed the Red Sox, 14-2. The Yankees clinched the American League East crown and home-field advantage throughout the AL playoffs.
In going 4-for-4 with a walk, Cano finished the regular season with 24 hits in his final 39 at-bats. That's a .615 average.
"When Robbie's on," CC Sabathia said, "he's the best hitter in the game."
Cano was restored to the cleanup spot by manager Joe Girardi after spending Tuesday night in the five-hole against lefthander Jon Lester. It didn't take Cano long to put his mark on the Yankees' 162nd game of the season.
Cano sent the first pitch into the second deck in right to give the Yankees a 5-1 lead. It was his 176th home run, giving him sole possession of 20th place on the Yankees' all-time list and breaking a tie with Bobby Murcer.
The Red Sox had a new pitcher by the fifth inning. Didn't matter. Cano hit the first pitch he saw from Clayton Mortensen into the second deck in right again. This one was just inside the foul pole and gave the Yankees a 7-1 advantage.
In the sixth inning, Cano came to bat against righthander Scott Atchison with the bases loaded and one out as the crowd chanted "Rob-by, Rob-by." He grounded a two-run single to right to make it 9-1.
Cano also singled leading off the second inning and scored on Granderson's first of two home runs. He walked in the seventh inning.
Cano tied his career high with six RBIs. He also did it on Aug. 28, 2010 vs. Seattle.
"It's a great feeling," Cano said. "It's not only how I did in this series, but it came at the right time, when we needed to win games. Being able to do the job with men in scoring position, that's something that I wasn't too good at the beginning of the season. Thank God it came at the right time and we were able to win our division."
Cano finished the regular season with a .313 average, a career-high 33 home runs and 94 RBIs. Not his best statistical season. But the way he finished it was simply sublime. He goes into the playoffs with nine consecutive multi-hit games.