Robinson Cano hits pair of two-run homers in 7-2 win
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All those retrofit parts continue to be critical, but on Saturday it was The Yankee Who Needs No Introduction who powered a 7-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium.
David Phelps, who didn't make his first start of the season until May, recovered from a wobbly beginning to go seven innings and even his record at 2-2. Travis Hafner, back from a shoulder injury, supplied insurance with a two-run home run in the eighth. Out-of-nowhere third baseman David Adams made a nifty defensive play and proxy catcher Austin Romine scored a run and called an astute game.
But mostly it was Robinson Cano, like a ghost of Past Yankee Health, who provided the heavy lifting with a pair of two-run homers. With all the revolving-door personnel changes necessitated by the Yankees' uncommon number of injuries to their headline performers, "I'm glad that's not a moving part,'' manager Joe Girardi said of Cano. "Robbie's so important to us. Offensively, defensively, his presence in the lineup. He's not someone you can replace.''
The Yankees have the best disabled list that money can buy -- Alex Rodriguez, $29 million; Mark Teixeira, $22.5 million; Derek Jeter, $17 million; Kevin Youkilis, $12 million; Andy Pettitte, $12 million; Joba Chamberlain, $1.9 million; Ivan Nova, $575,000; Eduardo Nuñez, $533,000; Michael Pineda, $528,000; Francisco Cervelli, $515,350 -- but they continue rolling (27-16) in first place.
Even Hal Steinbrenner said he is "pleasantly surprised,'' though he wouldn't admit to shock. "I didn't buy into the doomsday scenario that many people did,'' he said, "because I knew we had some good kids at Triple-A. But more importantly, I knew the guys we got in the offseason were veterans . . . and this is what you expect veterans to do.''
And Cano is still at second base, hitting .295 with a club-leading 12 homers and 31 runs batted in. "Everything he does,'' Romine said, "he's just so relaxed. It looks like nothing fools him too much. It's special watching him hit and the way he conducts himself.''
Cano said he is not thinking in terms of an additional leadership requirement. "I just go out and play the game,'' he said. Whatever, his production was especially handy after Phelps struggled in the first inning.
He walked two of the game's first three batters, and although he struck out J.P. Arencibia for the second out, danger still was lurking when he faced Adam Lind. But Jose Bautista wandered too far off second and shortstop Jayson Nix -- another Yankee who hadn't figured to be playing his 38th of the team's 43 games -- sneaked behind him to set up Phelps' perfect pickoff throw for the third out.
"That could be the game right there if we don't put up a zero,'' Phelps said. "I was a little too amped up in the first inning and that pickoff was huge. I was battling from behind in the count all day.''
By following Romine's lead in resorting to off-speed pitches in fastball counts, Phelps eventually got through seven innings, allowing six hits and three walks and striking out eight.
Cano's first homer, which barely made it over the rightfield wall, came after a two-out RBI single by Brett Gardner in the third and gave the Yankees a 3-0 lead. After Toronto got one run back on Colby Rasmus' two-out RBI single in the fourth, Cano homered to right-center with two outs in the fifth and Romine aboard after a single.
Edwin Encarnacion hit a solo homer off David Robertson in the eighth, but Hafner immediately responded with his seventh homer, a two-run shot to right that made it 7-2.
And the reconstituted Yankees carry on.