Give Cano an inch, he'll hit it a mile
August, 11, 2011
By Matt Ehalt | ESPNNewYork.com
Scott Downs missed his spot.
Robinson Cano didn't miss on his swing.
In the Yankees' 6-5 win Thursday against the Angels, Cano's grand slam against Downs with two outs in the seventh inning proved to be the difference as the second baseman broke a 2-2 tie and gave the Bombers the lead for good. Cano's slam was set up by an error by Maicer Izturis, who booted an easy Mark Teixeira grounder with two outs and two men on -- and Cano made the Angels pay.
Cano went 3-for-4 on Thursday with four RBIs and was 7-for-12 in the series against the Angels with two home runs and six RBIs. In August, Cano is hitting .385 (15-for-39) with four home runs and 13 RBIs.
"It's a great feeling," Cano said. "The pitcher made a mistake and then you made him pay. In that situation, to come through and help the team win the game."
Downs, one of the premier left-handed relievers, had owned Cano in the past, with the Yankees' second baseman just 5-for-25 against him. Monday night, in the Angels' 6-4 win, Downs had induced a groundout against Cano.
In that at-bat Monday, Cano said Downs had consistently pounded the ball in, and he did so with his first pitch Thursday. On his second pitch, though, he left the pitch more over the middle of the plate than inside, and Cano smacked the 0-1 pitch off the facing of the second deck in right field for his second home run in as many days.
After giving the Yankees the lead, Cano came out of the dugout for a curtain call, waving to and saluting the fans. Cano now has 20 home runs, making him the third Yankees second baseman to reach that plateau in three straight years, and 81 RBIs -- both of which are the third-best marks on the team.
"My feeling was just go there and get a pitch and get a hit so you can make the game 4-2 so you can bring Mariano (Rivera) in the game," Cano said.
Cano hopes that his recent success is proof he's starting to put it all together and can inch closer to his seasons of the past. He's now hitting .324 since the All-Star break, during which he was crowned the Home Run Derby champion.
While Cano said these past few weeks have been as good as it's been this year for him, he admits he hasn't been as consistent as he has wanted to be this season. He looks at what he's done in the past, as he's hit above. 300 in four of the past five seasons, and knows he is capable of producing better numbers this year.
After his great showing against the Angels, Cano raised his average to .303, which is the highest it's been following a game since May 5. Since Cano doesn't consider himself a "power hitter or an RBI guy", he strives to be at .300 during the season.
Right now, following his torrid stretch, he's there. And he's hoping this is just the beginning of what he can accomplish in the last 46 games.
"I want to get more for sure and I know I can do better," Cano said.