Power flash latest sign of Cano's rebound at the plate
NEW YORK -- "How's that .250 average, Robbie?" came the cry, as Robinson Cano walked to the plate for the first time on Saturday. He didn't look away, content to let the boos flood Yankee Stadium, as he carved out his stance in the dirt. Cano's .249 batting average flashed on the scoreboard and the boos kept coming, as he twirled his bat and leaned back into his stance.
He didn't give them a chance to stop, hitting the first pitch he saw over the wall in center field to give Seattle a two-run lead in the first inning. It was his first home run in Yankee Stadium as a member of the opposing team. He added his second a few innings later to give the Mariners all their offense in a 4-3 win over the Yankees.
In the sixth inning -- with boos flowing even more freely -- Cano turned on an inside fastball and sent it over the right-field wall, just as he did so many times in pinstripes, for his second two-run shot of the game.
Cano has struggled this season, delighting a Yankees fan base feeling spurned by the second baseman's $240-million move to Seattle before last season. A 3-for-4 game on Saturday raised his average to just .254, and he now has eight home runs on the season.
"The more they boo me, I think that's just a motivation," Cano said. "You've got to hear it, you're there."
If a 32-year-old, six-time All-Star can still go through a breakout, this is it for Cano. His first-half numbers were nothing like his career norms. The batting average was down. The home runs were down. He wasn't getting on base or driving in runs.
He's started to revert over the past month to the player who earned such a massive contract in the first place. Cano has hit six home runs in his past 26 games, while getting on base at a more Cano-like rate.
It's all just normalization, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said.
"I've said it all year. At the end of the day, Robbie's number's are going to be right where they're supposed to be," McClendon said. "The guy's going to hit."
After that first home run, the boos came louder and heavier each time Cano stepped to the plate. A third-inning single didn't do much to dampen them, but the second home run did. As he jogged around the bases, eyes focused on his feet, most of the vitriol gave way to a reluctant respect.
The fan who heckled Cano early on spent the next eight innings in relative silence. After all, it's a .254 average now -- and rising.