Robinson Cano’s time is now.
In 2009, Cano was merely a passenger during the Bronx Bombers championship run, hitting south of .200 and failing to produce any homeruns and extra-base hits in two of the three postseason series, while watching the New York Yankees’ captain Derek Jeter, and mainly Alex Rodriguez, elevate the franchise to its 27th World Series title. This season, it’s Cano who has been running the show for the Yankees down the stretch.
With a staggering show of precision and power, the second baseman lifted his batting average from .293 on September 24 to an endgame of .313. On Wednesday night, he single-handedly dismantled the Boston Red Sox, and closed the lid on ousted manager Bobby Valentine’s final days, going yard on starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka in the third, Clayton Mortensen in the fifth (for his 33rd homer), and cleared the bases with a single on Scott Atchinson in the sixth inning, to power the Yankees past the Red Sox 14-2 at Yankee Stadium. The Yanks completed a three-game sweep of the last-place Red Sox to clinch their 13th American League East title in 17 years. It is the Bombers second consecutive division crown.
Robbie is dominating. The numbers are staggering and no other baseball player –beside Miguel Cabrera– is swing the bat and producing at such a high level as Cano. His pair of two-run homers Wednesday tied his career-high of six RBIs, as he finished the night with four hits in four at-bats, with an absurd 24 hits in his past 39 at-bats (.615). Last night’s performance, was the 29-year-old’s ninth consecutive multi-hit game– which is one away from Yankees’ great Bernie Williams 2002 streak of 10 games. During Monday night’s rout of the Red Sox, in the series opener, he had a homer, two doubles and three RBIs. Cano is carrying the Bombers and not one player in the Yankees locker room would argue that fact.
“When Robbie’s on,” Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia explained to ESPN, “he’s the best hitter in the game.”
“Robbie is putting on an absolute clinic,” A-Rod said to ESPN. “I’ve been in front of him and your only job when you’re in front of a guy that hot is not to disturb his timing and get on base as much as possible so he can keep crushing it.”
The second baseman’s production is attributed to his long-time hitting coach Kevin Long, who told ESPNNewYork.com before the 2011 season that Cano would soon take the Yankees from the “Big Three” (Jeter, A-Rod and Mariano). Long’s prediction was on target as Robbie has recently positioned himself to become the Yankees’ marquee player. However, in order to replace Jeter as the face of the franchise, Robbie must be the man in October. After patiently waiting his turn behind his Hall of Fame teammates, No. 24 is more than certain he’s ready to lead the New York to its 28th World Series title.
Wednesday’s victory not only clinched the Pennant for the Yankees, but it also gave them the best record in the league at 95-67 and a No. 1 seed, ensuring they will play the winner of Friday’s one-game wild-card playoff between the Texas Rangers and the Orioles. The winner of that game will host New York in the first two games of the best-of-five divisional series starting Sunday. After such a grueling September, where the Bronx Bombers were forced to play a month’s worth of intense, playoff type games –after coughing up a 10-game lead in the AL East in August to flourish late to win 16 of their final 21 games– the Yankees could us the rest. Everyone except for Cano– the hottest hitter in the game must keep swinging.