- Last Updated: 1:06 PM, July 8, 2012
- Posted: 1:51 AM, July 8, 2012
BOSTON — The Red Sox seem to regard the first inning with the discomfort of Alec Baldwin at a photographers’ luncheon. They stumble to get out of there without creating havoc. Yet for a moment yesterday at Fenway Park, it looked as though the Yankees would be the team looking back regrettably upon the opening frame.
When Boston starter Franklin Morales hit Robinson Cano with a two-seam fastball to the right pinkie in the first inning of Game 1, Cano shook his nicked hand in pain and slowly made his way down to first base. Yankees manager Joe Girardi and head trainer Steve Donohue bolted onto the field upon seeing Cano in pain, and the Yankees held their collective breath.
“A little bit, yeah,” was how Girardi, following the Yankees’ doubleheader-opening 6-1 victory over the Red Sox, described his concern as soon as he witnessed Cano’s reaction.
Like most Cano health concerns, it turned out to be a false alarm. Cano stayed in the game, Nick Swisher slammed a three-run homer and the Yankees were en route to their fourth straight victory this season over their diminished rival. And to assuage any doubts, Cano crushed a ground-rule double into the Fenway triangle in right-center field, the ball bouncing on the warning track, hitting the wall then ricocheting into the stands.
The Yankees played an absolutely brutal Game 2, committing four errors in a 9-5 loss to the Red Sox for Boston’s first Rivalry victory of the season after four Yankees triumphs. Yet they could shrug off that debacle. They wouldn’t have been able to shrug off a Cano injury.
Though the Red Sox can’t seem to go a day without a health setback — yesterday, Boston announced that Carl Crawford’s rehabilitation hit a snag — the Yankees will enter the All-Star break in an excellent position thanks largely to the good health and production of their everyday players. And Cano, who hasn’t gone on the disabled list since 2006, is the best and healthiest of the bunch.
“That’s the one thing that’s not talked a lot about Robbie Cano, is his toughness,” Girardi said. “This is a tough kid. He plays.”
“The kind of guy that I am, I go into the season for myself expecting to play 162 games,” Cano said. “This thing is all about winning.”
He never has reached the vaunted 162 mark, but he has played in 159 or more games each of the prior five seasons. He played in his 84th game of the season in last night’s Game 2, tying him with Curtis Granderson for the team lead. He picked up an eighth-inning single to extend his hitting streak to 14 games, during which time he has 23 hits in 57 at-bats for a .404 batting average, four doubles, five homers and 16 RBIs.
His .374 on-base percentage and .579 slugging percentage both lead Yankees regulars.
“I’ll tell you what, seeing Cano day in and day out is impressive,” Yankees bench coach Tony Pena said. “Every day, it seems like he brings something to the table. He’s a kid. He’s still progressing.
“You can see Cano asking a lot of questions — ‘Why are you guys doing this?’ Because he wants to know the game. It’s very important.”
The Game 1 pitch hit Cano on top of his pinkie nail and left a mark.
“It still hurts a little bit,” he said. However, when Girardi tapped Cano on the shoulder between games to check on him, the second baseman said he would be fine, and that’s how Cano entered the Yankees’ Game 2 lineup.
Good to go for the nightcap, good to go for the All-Star Game and Home Run Derby. And then onto the second half. Meanwhile, Cano’s Red Sox equivalent Dustin Pedroia watched yesterday’s action, sidelined on the DL with a right thumb strain.
Tough times for the Red Sox, their Game 2 win notwithstanding. Tough second baseman on the Yankees, as the Rivalry continued to favor the New Yorkers.Follow @NYPostsports