Robinson Cano rises to leader of lineup

Robinson Cano.

Ask any hitter on a hot streak and there is a good chance you’ll hear them talk about timing.

Robinson Cano ended the regular season with 24 hits in 39 at-bats and a career-high nine consecutive multi-hit games. He punctuated that scorching week by going 4-for-4 with a pair of two-run home runs in the division-clinching win on Wednesday.

“It’s a good feeling,” Cano said. “It’s not only how I’ve hit, it’s that it came on at the right time. Right when we needed to win games. To be able to do the job, it’s all about timing.

“In this situation, you don’t want to go back and take anything that you do in the past. You just can’t wait to step to the plate and get a pitch that you can drive.”

“That was a coming-out party for Robbie,” Alex Rodriguez said. “With [everyone] watching, when we needed him most, it reminded me of Matsui in [the] 2009 [World Series]. As
the guy that hits in front of him, you don’t want to disturb him. You
want to keep the line moving and you want the bat in his hand as often
as possible.”

Others used to say the same thing about hitting in front of Rodriguez,
but now it’s apparent who the best hitter in the Yankees’
lineup is.

Cano has had hot streaks before. He hit over .300 during four months this year and exceeded .300 in 11 different ballparks, including a .342 mark in Baltimore and a .385 mark in Texas — the two cities Cano could next play in.

“It’s like you can’t wait to step to the plate and get a pitch to drive,” Cano said. “It’s a great feeling.”

Now Cano is looking to keep it going during a long postseason run. Unlike teammates Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher Cano has produced good postseason numbers.

In his last 14 playoff games, Cano is 19-for-57 with six home runs and 15 RBIs.

Six years ago, Jim Leyland referred to a Yankee lineup featuring Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield as “Murderer’s Row and Cano.” Cano was the team’s ninth-place hitter coming off a .342 season. Now he’s the hitter opposing pitchers might fear the most.

“Man, he’s been impressive,” Mark Teixeira said. “When Robbie gets on these streaks, there’s no one better in baseball. He looked like he was playing Wiffle Ball out there, just flicking the ball all over the ballpark. It doesn’t matter what they were throwing up there, he was hitting it hard.”

“I’ve seen him locked in plenty over his career, but he looks really good right now,” Joe Girardi said. “He’s hitting pitches all over the place, he’s driving the ball and it’s just great to see at this time of year.”

Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.


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