If you’re looking for ways to describe Robinson Cano, here’s a suggestion from Alex Rodriguez: Most valuable player.
“That’s certainly the look and taste and feel of an MVP,” Rodriguez said. “That was a huge, huge hit against their closer, on the road, trying to protect first place. It doesn’t get any bigger than that.”
For five innings, none of the Yankees could do anything against Rays starter Matt Garza. The only exception was Cano, who doubled twice. His biggest hit, of course, was the ninth-inning home run off all-star closer Rafael Soriano.
“Robinson Cano has more talent than anyone I’ve ever seen or played with,” Mark Teixeira said. “What he did tonight in a big situation against their closer, he hit that ball a mile. That’s just what he’s been doing all year. He carries a team like he did tonight and gets a big home run, a few more of those and people are going to start talking about him with the best players in baseball, which is where he belongs.”
Joe Girardi said after the game that he expects Kerry Wood to be here tomorrow. There was some doubt whether he’d get out of Toronto in time, but Girardi said he should make it. His No. 39 nameplate is already above a locker.
As for Lance Berkman, he went hitless in his first game as a Yankee, but he might have to get a pass this once. He spent last night trying to get settled enough to be away from home for three months, got up at 6 this morning to fly to Tampa and went directly into the Yankees lineup for a game that felt like the playoffs.
“Coming from where I’ve been, it was very intense,” Berkman said. “They were in first place before I got here and they can win the division without me. I’m going to do whatever I can to help where I can, but I’m going to try not to put pressure on myself to come in here and set the world on fire. I would like to be better than I was tonight, but I think that will come as I kind of get acclimated.”
Seems like the Brian Cashman audio is the best for today. The beat writers literally stood around a table while Cashman talked to us through a Blackberry that was on speaker phone. The audio actually came out alright considering.
• Give a lot of credit to the bullpen tonight. Boone Logan has been much better his second time around, and he got the two guys — John Jaso and Carl Crawford — who had been killing the Yankees early in this game. Dave Robertson shutdown the middle of the order in the eighth, then Mariano Rivera got his 22nd save in the ninth.
• Robertson on why he’s been so much better lately: “I haven’t been sucking, that’s the different. When you suck, you get hit.”
• Alex Rodriguez took an 0-for-3 and is still waiting for No. 600: “The way I’m swinging now, it’s probably going to take a while,” he said. “Get comfortable. People are asking me about home runs. I’m just asking for a hit by pitch, an infield hit, a bunt single, an error.”
• Girardi, of course, still hates milestones. “I told you we should have told him this was 601,” he said.
• Girardi had a good point about why he decided to bat Lance Berkman second instead of Nick Swisher: Berkman has been good against righties but bad against lefties. He decided not to bat him at the bottom of the order — which is full of left-handed hitters — and instead put him at the top, surrounded by righties. That gives teams something to think about before they bring in a left-handed reliever.
• Since joining the Yankees, Swisher leads the major leagues with 12 home runs against the Rays. He’s a career .310 hitter with 11 home runs at Tropicana Field.
• Mariano Rivera is 55-for-56 in save opportunities against the Rays. Girardi was asked about the chatter on the bench after the Cano home run. “My chatter was, ‘Get Mo up,’” he said.
• Javier Vazquez was over-the-top frustrated with himself after he gave up the Matt Joyce home run that put the Rays back in front in the sixth inning. “It’s one of those pitches where, he guessed right and he got it,” Vazquez said. “As a starting pitcher you get (upset) just because you’re right there. You’re team just tied it again and that home run there, it was tough.”
• We’ll leave you with one last comment from Berkman: “I like to win, and this is a good place for that.”
Associated Press photos of Cano, Berkman and Swisher