New York second baseman Robinson Cano is making a late push for AL Rookie of the Year honors.
Toronto left-hander Gustavo Chacin will try to slow his fellow first-year player down when the Blue Jays continue their weekend series with the playoff-hopeful Yankees.
Cano, who burst on the scene as a surprising replacement for struggling second baseman Tony Womack in early May, had eight homers and 39 RBIs in his first three months in the majors. However, the 22-year-old Dominican hit .252 with one homer and six RBIs in August, and committed several key errors in New York losses, forcing the Yankees to pick up veteran infielder Mark Bellhorn as insurance.
Cano has since responded in September, hitting .469 (23-for-49) with three homers and 12 RBIs, including 10 in the last two games. He hit a tying grand slam in Thursday’s come-from-behind 9-5 victory at Tampa Bay, and added two homers and his second straight five-RBI game in a wild 11-10 win in Friday’s series opener at Toronto.
Cano has raised his season average to .294 during the surge, and leads all AL rookies with 135 hits.
Chacin, on the other hand, leads AL rookies with 12 victories, and is unbeaten in two starts this month after going 0-3 with a 5.30 ERA in August. He has lost all three of his outings against the Yankees this year, but has held Cano hitless in two at-bats.
Chacin allowed two earned runs and five hits over 7 2-3 solid innings Sunday, but did not receive a decision in Toronto’s 6-5 loss at Tampa Bay. The 24-year-old southpaw struck out seven and walked only one for the second straight outing.
Despite Friday’s win, the Yankees remained 1 1/2 games behind first-place Boston in the AL East, and a half-game back of wild card-leading Cleveland.
Vernon Wells hit a first-inning three-run shot off Yankees starter Randy Johnson, who was ejected in the second inning for arguing balls and strikes. The Blue Jays nearly rallied from an early 11-3 deficit, but came up short as New York relievers Tanyon Sturtze and Mariano Rivera shut the door after the deficit was cut to one run in the seventh.