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Hafner, Cano lead Yankees past Indians

The SportsXchange

CLEVELAND - One of the newest Yankees and one of the few healthy veteran Yankees were too much for the Cleveland Indians to handle in their home opener Monday at Progressive Field.

New Yankee DH Travis Hafner, playing against his former team, was 2-for-3 with a home run, two walks, four RBIs and three runs scored, while veteran Yankee second baseman Robinson Cano belted two home runs and a double as the Yankees rolled to an 11-6 victory.

"It was nice to come back here and be able to contribute like that," said Hafner, whose 10-year career as the Indians' designated hitter ended after last season when the team declined to pick up the club option on his contract for 2013.

Hafner blasted a three-run home run off Cleveland starter Ubaldo Jimenez in the first inning, then added an RBI single in the third.

Jimenez never made it out of the fifth inning and was charged with seven runs on seven hits and three walks.

"Nothing was working. It was just a bad day," said Jimenez.

Cleveland countered New York's three-run top of the first inning with a three-run bottom of the first against Yankee starter Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda gave up three runs on three hits and two walks in that first inning, but then settled down.

After the first inning Kuroda retired 13 of the last 17 men he faced, working 5 1/3 innings to pick up his first win of the season.

"We had him on the ropes in the first, but he went to his breaking ball and to his credit he was able to stay in there," said Indians manager Terry Francona.

Kuroda left his last start, against Boston, in the second inning with a right middle finger contusion suffered when he was hit by a batted ball. After giving up three runs on three hits and two walks in the first inning Monday, Kuroda followed it with 4 1/3 scoreless innings, and Yankee hitters kept pounding away on Cleveland pitchers.

"He said his finger was fine, he just wasn't sharp early," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "Hopefully this gets him on track."

After doubling off Jimenez in the third inning Cano clubbed solo home runs in the fifth and sixth innings, helping New York extend its lead to 8-3 after six.

"That's a good sign," said Girardi of Cano's first two homers of the season. "He's swinging the bat great."

During his time as manager of the Boston Red Sox Francona has seen firsthand the damage Cano can do with his bat.

"When he starts feeling good he can hit anyone, anywhere," said Francona. "He's the last guy you want to see get going. He's one of the best hitters in the game."

Cleveland's three first-inning runs came on two sacrifice flies and an infield RBI single.

RBI singles by Hafner in the third inning and by Brett Gardner in the third and fourth innings, respectively, gave the Yankees a 5-3 lead.

New York stretched its lead to 7-3 in the fifth inning on the first of Cano's home runs and an RBI single by Ichiro Suzuki. Cano's second home run, in the sixth inning, made it 8-3, and the Yankees scored three more runs in the seventh inning, aided by a Cleveland error and wild pitch, which pushed it to 11-3.

The Indians added three runs in the eighth inning, two coming on a home run by Ryan Raburn. Cleveland had nine hits, two by centerfielder Michael Bourn, who had a single and a triple.

Notes: Cleveland catcher Carlos Santana had to leave the game in the ninth inning with a left thumb contusion, suffered when he was handcuffed by a pitch from reliever Chris Perez that was ruled a passed ball. Santana will have further tests done Tuesday. His status is day-to-day. . . This was the Yankees' third home opener of the season, but their first win. They lost their home opener in New York and lost in Boston in the Red Sox home opener. . . Indians DH Jason Giambi will be activated off the disabled list Tuesday. Giambi started the season on the DL with a strained lower back. . . After 10 years with the Indians, Hafner made his first appearance at Progressive Field as an opposing player. "It feels a little strange. I'm used to being on the other side," he said. . . Yankee shortstop Eduardo Nunez was back in the lineup after not starting the previous two games due to a bruised right biceps. . . Indians backup catcher Lou Marson was available on Monday after being unavailable in Sunday's game due to a strained neck. Marson suffered the injury in a home plate collision Saturday night in Tampa Bay.
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