Robinson Cano began 2013 with one of his worst droughts to start a season but has since found his swing. The four-time All-Star led the New York Yankees to a 4-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night. Cano hit a three-run home run in the fourth inning as Ivan Nova got his first win of the year on the mound.
Nova has been haunted by giving up big-innings in his previous starts, but he found a way to limit the Diamondbacks on Tuesday. Arizona left runners in scoring position in the first two innings before getting to Nova for two runs in the third.
Nova failed to command the strike zone early on, but he settled down and got out of the bases-load jam in the third after giving up the two runs. The score remained 2-0 Diamondbacks until Cano opened up the scoring for the Yankees in the fourth.
Lyle Overbay and Chris Stewart led off the inning with back-to-back singles before Brett Gardner struck out swinging. Manager Joe Girardi decided against playing small ball and gave Gardner the chance to hit instead of advancing the runners with a bunt. The decision seemed to not make a difference as Cano followed Gardner’s strikeout with his fourth home run of the season.
Cano got a pitch low and out over the plate from Diamondbacks’ starter Brandon McCarthy that he launched into the right-center bleachers. Here’s video of Cano’s long ball if you missed it:
It turns out that Girardi’s decision to let Gardner hit was simply protection for Cano. By not advancing the runners to second and third with a bunt, the Diamondbacks were forced to pitch to Cano instead of having the option of intentionally walking him with an open base at first.
Girardi’s genious payed off as the Yankees never gave back the lead. Ivan Nova went on to pitch five innings with the two runs he allowed in the third before being relieved by left-hander Boone Logan.
Logan pitched a scoreless sixth inning and got Gerard Parra to groundout before Joba Chamberlain took the mound in the seventh. Chamberlain finished off the seventh before David Robertson pitched a scoreless eighth.
Mariano Rivera took the mound with a 4-2 lead in the ninth and the greatest closer of all-time made his 611th career save look like a walk in the park. Rivera set down the Diamondbacks in order for his third save of the year.
The Yankees and Diamondbacks will play two more games at Yankee Stadium as Arizona looks to regroup after the 4-2 loss on Tuesday. The Yankees are currently 1 1/2 games back of the Boston Red Sox for the top spot in the AL East.
Can Robinson Cano continue driving in runs as the DL-ridden Yankees look to keep pace in the AL East?
[Image via Keith Allison]