After early K of Cano, CC's night unravels
Overturned call in Seattle's four-run fifth inning changes momentum
NEW YORK -- The boos rained lustily upon Robinson Cano each time he approached home plate or touched a ball in the field, providing a soundtrack that the Yankees largely expected for the sweet-swinging second baseman's homecoming of sorts.
Cano may have desired a standing ovation from his old fan base, but a 10-year, $240 million contract erased any chance for a toasty love-in. On a raw, cold night at Yankee Stadium, Cano settled for an infield single, a stolen base and an RBI in the Mariners' 6-3 victory over the Yankees.
"You've gotten used to not seeing him, but then seeing him in another uniform, it's kind of an odd picture," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. "It's not the first time guys have played here and gone elsewhere. It's over and done with."
Cano celebrated a victory in his first career game against the Bombers after having starred in their infield for nine seasons, including winning a World Series ring with the 2009 squad.
He had initially asked for a contract exceeding $300 million; New York's best offer to Cano topped out at seven years and $175 million, money that eventually was invested into other areas of the team's winter makeover, including premier free agents Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Masahiro Tanaka.
"He left to make the best decision for him and his family, and got a 10-year contract," said CC Sabathia, who was saddled with the loss after being roughed up in a four-run fifth inning. "It is what it is. People are going to be mad either way. For him, I know he's just going out and trying to play."
Cano said that he was not surprised by the crowd reaction, which was quite loud considering the half-filled facility.
"Anybody that goes back to where you used to play, I know you're going to get some boos and cheers, but you're always going to hear more of the boos than the cheers," Cano said. "That's something I can't control. It's not a distraction, either. I really have fun with that."
Cano's night started with a four-pitch strikeout against Sabathia, as the left-hander pitched without incident through the first four innings, dancing out of trouble in the third and fourth frames.
Sabathia's night came unraveled in the fifth, highlighted by Corey Hart's two-run double and sparked by a video-reviewed play at first base that overturned a Bill Miller call, showing that Mike Zunino beat out an infield single to start the inning.
It was one of a career-high four hits for Zunino, who raced to third base as Willie Bloomquist ripped a single to right. The Yankees' defensive shifts, more plentiful this year than in Cano's tenure, proved costly as Abraham Almonte laid down a bunt.
The ball was fielded easily by Sabathia, but because second baseman Brian Roberts was shaded up the middle in hopes of turning a double play, Roberts had no chance to make it to first base, giving Almonte a single and loading the bases.
"With all the movement in the infield nowadays and so much scouting, positioning, sometimes you just get caught in a position where it's hard to cover two different things," Roberts said.
Sabathia recorded a strikeout before Cano shattered his bat on a grounder to first base, knocking in Seattle's first run. Hart followed by ripping a fastball for the two-run double, and Justin Smoak added an RBI single.
"I just didn't make a good pitch to Corey," Sabathia said. "I think a changeup or a two-seamer there would have been a better pitch to try to get the first-pitch swinging, get the out."
Sabathia completed five-plus innings with nine hits, walking none and striking out six.
The Yankees managed two runs (one earned) in 5 2/3 innings against Seattle right-hander Chris Young, who permitted three hits. Mark Teixeira slugged a second-inning solo homer and Roberts scampered home when Zunino threw wildly on a third-inning steal by Brett Gardner.
"The last couple of days, I've put some good swings on balls," said Teixeira, who has hit three homers in New York's last five games. "It's good to see the ball getting out of the park and driving it. It's a good sign."
With the playing conditions worsening, Dustin Ackley and Zunino added run-scoring singles in the seventh inning off the duo of Dellin Betances and Preston Claiborne.
Silenced after the third inning, the Yanks' bats finally showed signs of life in the ninth against Fernando Rodney. Ichiro Suzuki singled, moved to third on a Roberts double and scored on Gardner's infield hit.
But with rain pelting the brim of his crooked cap, Rodney reared back to strike out Jeter on three pitches and caught Beltran looking at a third strike, allowing Cano to shake hands as a victorious visitor in his first trip back to the South Bronx.
"I don't want to say [it's] sweet," Cano said. "You go out there and play against them, you want to go out there and just beat them. Now I'm on the other side. I'm not on their side, so I don't hope for them to win. I hope for us to win our games."