Robinson Cano remains red-hot, but the New York Yankees middle infielder in the spotlight Tuesday night will be his double-play partner Derek Jeter.
Jeter will celebrate his 38th birthday as the Yankees seek a fourth straight win and continue a three-game home set against the Cleveland Indians.
Cano has homered in six of his last eight games, hitting his 17th of the year Monday in a 7-1 victory. The second baseman is 10 for 28 with nine RBIs during his surge.
"I think it's just Robby being Robby in a sense," manager Joe Girardi said. "He's a guy that can carry your club."
Jeter, meanwhile, continues to lead the AL with 93 hits. His 3,181 career hits are the third-highest total for a player prior to turning 38 behind Ty Cobb (3,666) and Hank Aaron (3,272).
"To think about that he's still doing it at that age is truly amazing," Girardi said.
Jeter is hitting .318 (14 for 44) with eight runs scored and seven walks while never homering in 11 games on his birthday. He is three hits shy of matching Cal Ripken Jr. for 13th place on the all-time list.
New York (44-28) hasn't needed much power from its captain with a major league-high 115 homers. Along with Cano, Nick Swisher and Dewayne Wise also homered Monday.
The Yankees own the best record in the majors after winning 13 of 16.
"You can always debate whether winning causes fun or fun causes winning," Swisher said. "I feel like we have both of that right now, and when we come to the ballpark we feel we're going to be successful every single day."
The Yankees have never gone deep against Justin Masterson (4-6, 3.98 ERA), who is 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA in four starts against them while also posting an 8.10 ERA in four relief appearances.
Jeter and Cano have fared best among New York regulars against him. Jeter is 6 for 15 and Cano 5 for 13.
Masterson has gone 20 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. He struck out nine and walked none in a three-hitter for his fourth career complete game Wednesday to cruise to his second straight win, 8-1 over Cincinnati.
"He pounded the strike zone with that heavy sinker," manager Manny Acta said. "It was going down like a bowling ball."
The right-hander is more vulnerable on the road, going 1-3 with a 7.07 ERA in five starts.
Although Masterson received plenty of support his last time out, Cleveland (37-35) provided him with two runs or fewer in each of his previous eight outings.
Minimal support may be expected again Tuesday with the Indians having totaled three runs during a three-game slide.
Asdrubal Cabrera has the lone Cleveland homer in the skid, but his club could break out as it faces Phil Hughes (7-6, 4.94). The Yankees right-hander has allowed the second-most homers in the majors with 19.
Hughes, 2-1 with a 3.52 ERA in four career starts against the Indians, gave up four homers among six runs Wednesday over 4 1-3 innings in a 10-5 defeat to Atlanta. He went 3-0 with a 1.69 ERA over his previous three outings.
Alex Rodriguez will likely be back in the Yankees lineup after a night off Monday.
- Robinson Cano
- Derek Jeter
- Cleveland Indians
- Joe Girardi
- Nick Swisher