The All-Star break has proven to be a useful respite for Robinson Cano in his brief career. The past week has proven no different.
Cano and the New York Yankees try to cap a perfect six-game homestand and run their winning streak at Yankee Stadium to 10 games Wednesday when they close a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins.
Cano is a lifetime .339 hitter after the midsummer classic, and he has quickly found his second-half form in helping the Yankees go 5-0 since hosting the All-Star game. He went 2-for-4 with two RBIs as New York (55-45) defeated Minnesota 8-2 on Tuesday and pulled within 3 1/2 games of slumping Tampa Bay for the AL East lead.
“We’re playing great right now,” said Cano, who is 12-for-23 (.522) with seven RBIs in the five victories. “We’re doing our job with men on base better than the first half.”
Cano’s .339 post-All Star break batting average since making the Yankees roster as a rookie in 2005 trails only Albert Pujols among active players, and his 148 RBIs are good for 21st. He went home during the All-Star break to the Dominican Republic, where he and his father worked out.
“I feel like I’m staying behind the ball, not reaching or jumping like I was in the first half,” said Cano, who had 13 homers and 57 RBIs while batting .343 in the second half of 2007.
Cano - a lifetime .340 hitter versus the Twins - will again try to spark New York’s offense for Mike Mussina (12-6, 3.49 ERA), who has pitched well of late and until recently, had dominated the Twins. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in his last three starts, and worked in and out of trouble against Oakland on Friday, giving up nine hits - but only one run - in six innings of a 7-1 victory.
Mussina improved to 21-6 lifetime against the Twins with a victory May 30 at Minnesota despite allowing four runs in six innings. It ended a personal four-game losing streak to the Twins, whom he is 10-1 with a 2.92 ERA in 14 starts against when pitching at home.
New York, which will travel to Boston for a key three-game series starting Friday, has not won 10 straight home games since July 26-Aug. 14, 1998.
The Twins (55-45) will undoubtedly be happy to see this version of Yankee Stadium get torn down at season’s end, entering this game 3-18 there since the start of 2002 and losing seven straight series.
“We missed a couple plays out there, which always kills you in this ballpark,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, whose team has lost three straight.
Glen Perkins (7-2, 3.84) will try to help Minnesota avoid a sweep and win his fourth consecutive start. The left-hander had his best outing of the season Friday, scattering three hits and three walks in six innings of a 6-0 win over Texas.
“I’ve had a lot of fun with it,” said Perkins, who has won five straight decisions since losing to Mussina on May 30. “It’s just being able to help the team and get the team wins is what I’m trying to do and that’s why I’ve been successful as a starter so far.”
Perkins, a converted starter after spending his first two years as a reliever, was reached for five runs and 10 hits in a season low-tying four innings in his first-ever appearance versus New York.