A.J. Burnett threw eight shutout innings, Robinson Cano hit two home runs and Marcus Thames continued his dominance against left-handed pitchers. But all anyone seemed to talk about after the game was Cano’s play in the third inning.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anyone make the play better than he does up the middle,” Joe Girardi said. “It’s one thing to get to it. It’s another thing to throw a strike all the time, which he does.”
Nolan Reimold grounded sharply up the middle to start the third inning, and Burnett said he was made at himself because there was “no chance” to get an out on the play. Cano, though, went to his right, threw against his momentum and got Reimold by a step. Burnett stood in disbelief with his hands on top of his head.
“When he threw it I was like, I should be backing up first,” Burnett said. “But when you’re that good, I guess I don’t have to.”
Burnett said he could remember one play as good — Luis Castillo made a great play during Burnett’s no hitter with Florida — but Cano has been playing Gold Glove quality defense to go with his outrageous hitting.
“He’s the best defensive second baseman in baseball,” Mark Teixeira said. “And I’ll take anyone’s challenge on that one.”
Here’s Cano’s postgame.
Cano’s game was absurd with the big play in the third inning and the two home runs in the fourth and eighth, but Burnett was awfully good as well.
He’s pitched into the seventh inning in each of his past four starts and tonight was probably his best of the year with three hits, one walk and no runs.
“I’m learning more and more how to throw the ball to both sides of the plate with movement,” Burnett said. “…I felt unbelievable. I don’t feel like I threw a pitch tonight. I wish I could feel that good all the time.”
Being able to pitch with movement to both sides of the plate has been key because Burnett’s still not happy with his curveball. He believes it will come, but it’s not there yet. He estimated that he threw five changeups tonight, but he seemed especially high on his two-seam fastball.
Here’s Burnett’s postgame.
• What else can be said about Cano’s offensive production? This road trip he went 17-for-34 (and even .500) with four home runs in nine games. He’s batting .407. “He’s playing as good as you can play,” Girardi said.
• Funny story from Marcus Thames. After Cano’s first home run, Thames went to the plate and Orioles catcher Matt Wieters joked that they needed to check Cano’s bat because it sounded so loud. “All I could do was laugh,” Thames said. “I was like, it’s been sounding like that for a while now.”
• Speaking of Thames, after that brutal spring training, he’s been outstanding this season. He went 3-for-3 tonight and has a .588 batting average, with all but one at-bat coming against lefties. “He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do at the plate,” Girardi said.
• Girardi said there was nothing new on Posada. “I don’t expect him to be able to play tomorrow, but maybe on Saturday,” Girardi said. “We’ll have to see.”
• Alex Rodriguez is now hitless in his past 19 at-bats.
• Derek Jeter’s two-hit night moved him into a tie with Ken Griffey Jr. for the most hits by an active player. Griffey’s Mariners were off on Thursday.
• Jeter on Cano: “He’s in one of those zones right now. Every player wants to be in it, but they come few and far between. It seems like everything he’s doing right now is perfect and he’s playing as well as I’ve ever seen him.”
• Jeter on the end of this 10-day road trip: “We’ve been playing pretty well for the most part. It feels like we really haven’t been home. I think everyone is anxious to get back home. I’m comfortable with how we’re playing.”
Associated Press photos