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YORK -- Robinson Cano stands alone as the only player in Major League history to go hitless as long as he has -- 26 consecutive at-bats -- in a single postseason, but he stood at his locker after Sunday's 3-0 loss to the Tigers in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series and insisted that he remains positive, and his swings were good.
Cano points to misfortune on hard-hit balls: What might have been an RBI single up the middle with the bases loaded in Saturday's Game 1 bounced off starter Doug Fister's right wrist, caroming to a charging Jhonny Peralta at shortstop.
"There's nothing you can do," Cano said.
Cano points to missed calls: Replays showed he beat Peralta's throw to first on that ball up the middle, but first-base umpire Rob Drake called Cano out.
"I was safe," Cano said.
And Cano points to an expanding strike zone: Drake frustrated him again, this time from behind home plate for Game 2, with two called strikes in an eighth-inning at-bat.
"That was on the white [chalk] lines," Cano said. "Now you have to chase whatever [reliever Phil Coke] throws after."
That was an 0-2 curveball that Cano hit softly to Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder for an easy out, capping an 0-for-4 day, which followed two other 0-for-4 showings and two 0-for-6 outings spanning the AL Division Series against the Orioles and the ALCS.
Cano is 2-for-32 this postseason with one run scored and four RBIs, all coming in the ALDS.
"It is odd," said manager Joe Girardi. "You know this is a really, really good hitter that is struggling right now, and he's not getting a lot of pitches to hit."
Derek Jeter's season-ending fractured left ankle on Saturday night forced the Yankees to shuffle their lineup on Sunday. Cano hit out of the two-hole in Game 2 after batting third or fourth in New York's first six postseason games. He entered the playoffs on one of the hottest stretches of his career, having recorded nine consecutive multihit games.
Cano had a 23-game hitting streak that ran from late June into July, but his work in late September and the first three days of October was just as impressive.
In the regular season's final nine games, Cano went 24-for-39 with 11 runs scored, 14 RBIs, seven doubles and three home runs. He doubled in each of the first two playoff games and drove in three runs, but he then went cold.
"You just have to keep swinging," Cano said. "You keep playing the game, and that's the only way you can turn it around."
Cano dismissed the notion that he was pressing, pointing to the high-pressure finish to the regular season, when the Yankees clinched the AL East on the final day thanks in part to his 4-for-4 effort, featuring two homers and six RBIs.
Cano's career numbers in the postseason support that, as he entered this year with a .258 average, 10 doubles, three triples and eight home runs in the playoffs.
And Cano did not rush his throw on a potential inning-ending double-play ball in the seventh inning of Game 2 that allowed Detroit to score its first run.
"That's the same way I would always turn a double play," Cano said. "I didn't get a grip on the ball."
Cano questioned whether his throw would have even beaten Delmon Young to first base, and Girardi agreed. The manager, whom Cano called one of the best in the Majors for his unwavering support, stood behind his second baseman for his defense, hitting and hustle.
Cano trotted toward an out at first base in the sixth inning after a weak swinging bunt made a tough play for pitcher Anibal Sanchez to field.
But Cano said he had "no chance" to beat the throw even if he had sprinted down the line, and Girardi expressed no concern, even with his slugger in a historic slump.
"Robby plays fine for me," Girardi said. "I am sure he is frustrated, and I understand that. You work really hard to get to this point, and you want to be a part of the winning and contributing, and it is frustrating when you don't."