A.J. Burnett was tremendous tonight, improving to 3-0 with a 2.43 ERA this season as he shut out the Orioles over eight innings and allowed just three hits.
But most of the talk afterward was about Robinson Cano, and that was fine with Burnett, who said the second baseman was "locked in at the plate and in the field.”
Cano went 3-for-4, including two homers, to raise his average to .407 with a .444 OBP.
After Cano’s first homer, a solo shot in the fourth to make it 2-0, Orioles catcher Matt Wieters joked with Marcus Thames, who was up next.
"Wieters was like, ‘wow, we need to check that bat because it’s sounding really, really loud,’” said Thames, who had three hits off Brian Matusz to improve to10-for-16 off lefties this season. “I was like, it’s been like that since spring training. Even BP, you watch his BP, it’s the same thing.”
Even Joe Girardi, who tabbed Cano as his No. 5 hitter midway through the spring, couldn’t have envisioned this kind of start.
“It’s as good as it gets,” Girardi said. “Whether it’s at the plate, defensively…I mean the play that he made up the middle was remarkable. He’s playing as good as you can play.”
The play up the middle Cano made on Nolan Reimold's grounder to lead off the third was the talk of the clubhouse afterward.
"No chance," Burnett said of his first thought when the ball left Reimold's bat.
“Not too many second basemen can make that play,” Derek Jeter said.
Said Girardi: "“Robby goes to the right and makes that play better than anyone I’ve ever seen."
“Those are the kinds of things that just happen,” Cano said. “It’s nothing that I practice or anything. It just happens.”
Cano said in the spring winning a Gold Glove is a goal of his and he's off to a fine start toward that end this year.
"I told you guys last year he should have won the Gold Glove," Mark Teixeira said. "He's the best second baseman in baseball."
As for Burnett, it was effortless at times for him in the 116-pitch outing.
“I felt good, really good,” Burnett said. “I think Strike 1 was huge for us tonight. Pounded the strike zone. Good two-seamer today, mixed in a couple changeups. Strike 1 was the big key tonight.”
"I knew I was in a groove, I had a good tempo and I repeated myself real well tonight. I may have had some 3-2 counts but I didn’t try to be too perfect. I just attacked. Another game without a hook but that’s OK.”
The Yankees feel more than OK after going 5-4 on this trip, returning home, where they haven't been much this year, at 14-7.
"We’ve been playing pretty well for the most part,” Jeter said. “It was a long trip. Seems like we really haven’t been home this year. I think everyone’s anxious to get back home…I’m comfortable with how we’ve been playing.”
Tomorrow night it's the start of a three-game series with the White Sox as another pitcher having an outstanding April, Andy Pettitte (3-0, 1.29) takes on Freddy Garcia (0-2, 5.82). I'm off for the weekend but the rest of the Newsday baseball team will keep you updated.