Through all the drama surrounding the New York Yankees this year — the lineup changes, injuries and off-field issues — Joe Girardi has had one constant: Robinson Cano.
And the smooth-swinging second baseman has not let his manager down.
Cano gave the Yankees the lead for the second straight game against Toronto, this time hitting a two-run double in the seventh inning to exceed 100 RBI for the second consecutive season, and New York rallied to beat the Blue Jays 6-4 on Saturday for its sixth win in seven games.
”This kid loves to play the game, loves pressure moments,” Girardi said. ”It’s a pleasure to pencil his name in there every day. It’s real easy.”
Cano lined a 2-2 pitch from reliever Casey Janssen to the wall in center field to score Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez, back in the lineup after missing a week with a sprained left thumb.
A .309 career hitter, Cano was motivated by the walk to Rodriguez.
”Every time I see they walk a guy in front of me, that pumps me up,” Cano said, ”and I say, ‘Come on, now is a situation where you’ve got to show them they’ve got to pitch to the guy in front of you.’ ”
Ricky Romero (13-10) was cruising along after giving up a two-run homer to Francisco Cervelli and an RBI single to Eduardo Nunez in the third until he hit Granderson in the back with a curveball with one out in the seventh and walked Rodriguez.
After Cano’s hit, Nick Swisher ended Janssen’s scoreless streak at 16 2/3 innings with an RBI single, making it 6-4. Cano had the tiebreaking hit in Friday night’s 3-2 win, a single in the fifth. He has 101 RBI this season.
”He’s a good hitter. (I) didn’t have to give in 2-2 but definitely wanted to throw an aggressive pitch and he hit it,” Janssen said. ”It was a cutter. A little bit flatter than I wanted it.”
The Yankees improved to a major league-best 36-9 in day games and ended Romero’s winning streak at six straight decisions. His last loss came against New York on July 16.
”I thought I did a pretty good job of battling,” Romero said.
Rodriguez returned with a taped left thumb after missing six games. With Derek Jeter getting a day off after a night game and Mark Teixeira out for a second straight game because of a sore knee, A-Rod batted third for the first time since 2008. He went 1 for 3, striking out in the fifth after getting ahead in the count 3-0, and walked.
Boone Logan (5-2) relieved Bartolo Colon with one out in the seventh and got two outs for the victory.
David Robertson tossed a perfect eighth. With Mariano Rivera and Rafael Soriano unavailable after each pitched two straight nights, Robertson gave up a hit in the ninth before finishing his first two-inning outing in more than a year for his first save this season and third of his career.
Robertson would love to be a closer, but knows it won’t happen soon.
”I don’t have to worry about it. We’ve got 42 here,” Robertson said, referring to Rivera, who is four saves away from 600.
Toronto injury replacement Dewayne Wise tripled in his first at-bat after entering the game for Eric Thames, who left because of dizziness after striking out looking in the first. Wise hit his first homer of the season in the fifth, a tiebreaking shot.
Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar also left because of an injury, pulling out before the bottom of the fifth with a jammed left wrist. He said X-rays were negative but he was sore and wouldn’t play Sunday.
Adam Lind connected off Colon and Jose Bautista drove in a run for the fourth straight game for Toronto, which built a 4-3 lead against Colon in the fifth.
Colon came in 6-1 with 1.88 ERA in eight day starts, but he struggled at times in his 6 1-3 innings, giving up four runs and seven hits. He struck out seven and walked one, throwing a season-high 107 pitches.
Colon started off well enough in the brilliant sunshine, striking out the side — two looking with nasty movement on his fastball and a sharp breaking pitch. The second inning was another story.
Lind led off with his 24th home run, Edwin Encarnacion and Kelly Johnson each had a single and Encarnacion advanced to third on Brett Lawrie’s fielder’s choice.
J.P. Arencibia gave Toronto a 2-0 lead with a sacrifice fly.
The Yankees scored three times with two outs in the bottom half. Nunez laced an RBI single and Cervelli followed with a two-run homer. He crossed the plate without the hand clap that upset pitcher John Lackey on Tuesday night in Boston and led to a bench-clearing staredown two innings later.
The Blue Jays got a run right back when Wise tripled into the right-field corner and scored on Bautista’s single.
Colon struck out his last batter of the third and fanned the side in the fourth. Wise homered into the Yankees’ bullpen in right-center with one out in the fifth for a 4-3 lead.
NOTES: Teixeira said he was feeling better and should return to the lineup Sunday. … Blue Jays 3B coach Brian Butterfield was ejected for arguing balls and strikes after Johnson struck out to end the third inning. … Acting manager Don Wakamatsu said Bautista was sore after fouling ball off his leg Friday night and the slugging RF will probably DH on Sunday. ”Get him off his feet a little bit tomorrow,” Wakamatsu said. … Top Yankees prospect Jesus Montero got his first big league hit in the sixth, a single.