Cano & Nova Are Divine Versus Angels; AJ and Mo Less Than Heavenly
Added by Elizabeth DiPietro on August 12, 2011.
A grand slam is always a good thing, but Robinson Cano’s in yesterday’s rubber match against the Angels proved to be quite fortuitous.
Cano’s plate appearance alone in the inning was the result of a little Yankee luck. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning and the score tied 2-2, Angels second baseman Maicer Izturis booted a routine ground ball that should have ended the inning. That loaded the bases, and Cano belted his fifth career grand slam off Scott Downs.
The blast appeared to break the pitchers’ duel wide open, but little did the Yankees know, they would need every one of Cano’s RBIs to win the game.
David Robertson pitched a scoreless eighth. Cory Wade came in to pitch the ninth and immediately got himself into trouble. With runners on second and third and one out, manager Joe Girardi called in closer Mariano Rivera to try to prevent the game from getting out of hand. Rivera, whose last two appearances were decidedly un-Rivera-like, gave up a three-run shot to pinch-hitter Russell Branyan. The homer pulled the Angels to within one run, but Rivera shut down the next two batters to “earn” his 30th save of the season and eke out a Yankee win, 6-5.
Rivera’s outing mirrored his appearance on Tuesday night’s game, when he gave up a two-run shot to former teammate Bobby Abreu that propelled the Angels to a 6-4 win. He also blew the lead against the Red Sox on Sunday night. Despite the recent troubles of the legendary closer—whose save yesterday tied Trevor Hoffman for the major league record—Girardi didn’t seem concerned.
“He’s not perfect,” Girardi told the Daily News. “It’s going to happen from time to time…fortunately it didn’t cost us today. We move on.”
In that same game on Tuesday starter A.J. Burnett was mediocre, giving up four runs in six innings. Unlike Rivera, whose troubles started recently, Burnett has been inconsistent all year. The highly-paid so-called number two starter’s place in the rotation could be in jeopardy. Girardi, ever the optimist, has been vague about the possibility of sending Burnett to the bullpen, but he has said that rookie Ivan Nova has solidified his spot in the rotation. That means either Burnett or Phil Hughes will be relegated to the bullpen if Girardi wants to return to the standard five-man rotation.
Nova had a solid start against the Angels on Wednesday night, going six innings and giving up three runs. He earned his eleventh win, and now has the second most wins on the team behind CC Sabathia.
Sabathia starts the series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays tonight. Hughes starts tomorrow.
YANKEE FUN FACT: Robinson Cano was named after baseball legend Jackie Robinson. He used to wear number 22, but gave it up to Roger Clemens and chose 24 as a reversal of Jackie Robinson’s legendary 42.