Robinson Cano, Travis Hafner have big days in Yankees' rout of Indians
CLEVELAND -- The hitting issues that most figured would plague the Yankees this season suddenly have disappeared.
For two games, anyway.
The Yankees piggybacked Sunday's 13-hit eruption in Detroit with 13 more hits Monday, including two solo homers by Robinson Cano and a three-run blast by Travis Hafner, and spoiled the Indians' home opener with an 11-6 victory.
"The last few days, we've been swinging the bats pretty well,'' said Hafner, who went 2-for-3 with two walks, four RBIs and three runs. "It's great to see. It's a lot of fun.''
Hafner, who spent the previous 10 seasons with the Indians, quickly sucked much of the life from the noisy Progressive Field crowd of 41,567 with a three-run homer off Ubaldo Jimenez in the first inning. Cano, who came in hitting .130 and without a homer or RBI, then helped drain any remaining life, hitting two monstrous solo blasts and finishing 3-for-4 with a walk, two RBIs and four runs scored.
Vernon Wells also was 3-for-4 and now is hitting .381 with a .500 on-base percentage, two homers and four RBIs. Hafner is hitting .391/.481 with two homers and a team-best six RBIs.
"Those guys have been great,'' Joe Girardi said of Wells and Hafner, two additions whom the Yankees are relying on to make up for some of the production lost because of the injuries to Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson. "They come over and are asked to step up in a big area of the lineup. They're doing a tremendous job.''
Cano hadn't been doing such a tremendous job, unable to carry his MVP performance in the World Baseball Classic into the regular season.
By his own admission, he'd been chasing pitches out of the strike zone, perhaps trying to make up for the players missing from the lineup.
"Today I was able to swing at strikes,'' said Cano, who used the whole field with a double off the wall in left-center, a home run to left-center and a home run to right. "That's what you want. If you don't get a pitch, then get a walk and let the guy behind you do the job.''
Hiroki Kuroda, forced from his start last Wednesday after his right middle finger was grazed by a line drive, wasn't entirely sure what kind of job he'd be able to do.
On Sunday, he said he wouldn't be sure the digit was 100 percent until he took the mound against the Indians, and the early results weren't good. He gave up three hits, walked two and allowed two sacrifice flies in a three-run Cleveland first that tied the score.
But Kuroda (1-1, 6.75 ERA) somehow kept it there, allowing two more hits and no additional runs before departing with an 8-3 lead after 51/3 innings. He walked four, struck out six and later said the finger did not bother him.
That's not to say he didn't feel it, though. "I did not not feel it,'' he said with a smile. "But I was able to pitch. When I was on the mound, I didn't think about it.''
Girardi said that once Kuroda told him he was OK, that was it from his perspective. "I know there's been a lot of talk about it, but he said his finger was fine,'' he said. "I had confidence he would figure it out, and he did.''
With the Yankees ahead 11-3 in the eighth, Shawn Kelley allowed three runs, including a two-out, two-run homer by Mike Aviles, to make it 11-6.
After Hafner gave the Yankees (3-4) a 3-0 lead in the first, the Indians (3-4) quickly tied it. But when Cano doubled in the third and scored on Hafner's single to make it 4-3, the Yankees had the lead for good. Chris Stewart stole second standing up with two outs in the fourth and scored on Brett Gardner's single for a 5-3 lead.
"Thanks to the offense, I was able to regroup myself,'' Kuroda said. "To get that run support is really helpful.''