“This is your day,” Cano said his teammate told him.
Day? Try season.
Cano has at least one hit in all nine games this season batting in the fifth spot in the Yankees’ lineup. Hitting .395, he has helped the World Series champions open the season with series wins against three potent rivals—Boston, Tampa Bay and the Angels.
“He’s seeing the ball well, he’s getting his pitches and he’s not missing,” manager Joe Girardi said.
The Yankees second baseman helped present a bouquet of flowers to Robinson’s widow, Rachel, during a ceremony commemorating the 63rd anniversary of the Brooklyn Hall of Famer breaking baseball’s color barrier, then had the fifth multihomer game of his career while wearing Robinson’s No. 42.
“It was a great day,” Cano said.
Curtis Granderson(notes) also had a pretty good one, hitting two triples and throwing Hideki Matsui(notes) out at the plate. Derek Jeter(notes) homered and had an RBI double for the Yankees. Phil Hughes(notes) (1-0) labored through five-plus innings in his first start since winning the No. 5 starter job from Joba Chamberlain(notes) this spring.
The Angels dropped to 3-7 for their worst start since 2002, the year they won their only championship.
“The heartbeat of our club is starting pitching,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “We need these guys to get deep into games then it will all start to come together.”
Matsui homered in the top of the second for the Angels in the final game of his homecoming to New York. A fan favorite in his seven years in the Bronx, last year’s World Series MVP got a rare—if not unheard of—salute from the crowd of 44,722 after giving Los Angeles a 1-0 lead: a standing ovation for a visiting home run.
Cano quickly answered after Matsui’s homer, leading off the bottom half with a tying shot over the right-field wall. Jeter connected to open the third and had a ground-rule double an inning later, driving in Granderson, who hit an RBI triple. Granderson also tripled in the fifth.
“You don’t have to have the best arm as long as you are accurate,” Granderson said.
Hughes began his big league career as a heralded prospect in 2007. He then went 0-4 in an injury-plagued ’08 season and was bumped to the bullpen last year when Chien-Ming Wang(notes) returned from an injury. Hughes excelled in 44 relief appearances and impressed Girardi with the command of his changeup this spring.
But the right-hander was wild in his first outing against big leaguers since the season started. After pitching in extended spring training to stay ready, Hughes tied a career high with five walks and threw 108 pitches. He gave up two runs and three hits, striking out six and earning a hearty reception from the fans when he exited with two on and none out in the sixth.
“It wasn’t really a great outing but to walk off with the lead and to get that kind of reaction it felt good,” Hughes said.
Mariano Rivera(notes) got one out in the ninth for his fourth save of the season and 530th of his career. On a night when all players in the majors wore No. 42 to honor Jackie Robinson, the Yankees’ closer kept his own number—Rivera is the only player still wearing 42 every day.
Kazmir gave up six runs and eight hits. He was pulled with no outs in the fifth, after Cano’s second homer.
NOTES: The teams combined for 13 walks. … It was Cano’s fifth multihomer game. … The Angels made no errors in the three-game series. They made eight in a six-game loss to the Yankees in the ALCS. … Granderson last had two triples on Aug. 18, 2008, for Detroit at Texas. … Yankees reliever Chan Ho Park(notes) has a mild hamstring strain. He was injured throwing in the bullpen. He will be reevaluated Friday.