Nick Swisher has a theory about Robinson Cano’s recent home run binge.
“He’s really been banging,” Swisher said. “He’s really got that home run stroke going. Maybe he’s getting ready for the home run derby.”
Remember when Cano was off to a terrible start with four RBI through early May? That’s not the case anymore. At this point, Cano’s on pace for probably the greatest season of his career. His RBI total is still surprisingly low — a product of his struggles with runners in scoring position — but his .302/.369/.572 as potent as any of his MVP-type seasons.
With home runs in six of his past eight games, he’s now on pace for well over 30 homers, something he’s never done in his career.
“It’s nothing different,” he said. “I’m doing the same thing, working hard with K-Long, doing the net drill. I’m just connecting. … I’m not thinking about homers. I just go out there like I say and try to get a hit. If you hit a homer, perfect. We’ll be laughing in the dugout all day. But I mean, it’s all about just getting on base and getting big hits.”
The most telling thing Cano said tonight was this: “I understand this is a long season, 162 games. You take 600 at-bats, you know you’re only going to get 180 hits or 200. You have to understand that when you struggle, you have to keep working hard, put your head down and keep fighting.”
Must be nice to go into a season counting on 180-200 hits, knowing the power’s going to come even when it’s been completely absent through the first month of the season.
“I guess if you’re Robby Cano and you’ve had so much success, you probably believe that eventually you’re going to hit when you’ve got that good of a swing,” Joe Girardi said. “… I think it’s just Robby being Robby in a sense. He’s another guy that can carry your club. You can hold him down for a while, but eventually he’s going to get hot. That’s who he is. He’s just too good a hitter not to. He has just turned it around.”
• Really, you had three choices for the player of the game today. The Cano storyline is interesting because he’s been so hot lately, but Swisher probably gave the best analysis with this line: “That was Hiro’s game today,” Swisher said. Hiroki Kuroda won for the fourth time in six starts, allowing one run through seven-plus innings. He was terrific, and he’s been terrific for a long time now.
• The feel-good story was Dewayne Wise, who got his first center field start of the year and came through with a home run, triple and three RBI. “I was just happy I walked in today and saw my name in the starting lineup,” he said. “To be honest, I think the team was more happy than I was. It turned out a good day.
• As is often the case, the split was a big pitch for Kuroda, especially on his strikeouts. “I didn’t really have that pitch in the bullpen,” Kuroda said. “But I saw a lot of people swinging at that so from the beginning of the game.
• Kuroda walked off to a big standing ovation in the eighth. “I think it’s the greatest feeling to throw in front of these great fans,” Kuroda said.
• Cano said he found out from his family that he’d taken over the lead in the all-star voting at second base. “One of my family just texted me today because they’ve been voting so bad,” Cano said. “They say, ‘We want you to be the starter.’ But you understand it’s the fans and the people take their time.”
• I didn’t watch a lot of the Subway Series this weekend, but I know the Yankees played some rocky defense at Citi Field. They were pretty good today. “We’re back home,” Girardi said. “It’s a field that we’re probably a little bit more used to. That always helps. We made some great plays. Derek made some great plays. Robby made a great play. Tex made a good play as well, and that’s what you want to see. Swish outstanding in the outfield running some balls down. They had a couple guys on in the eighth inning and they could have made it interesting if he doesn’t get to those balls. I love the defense.”
• After Kuroda left the game, the Yankees got three straight fly ball outs to right field, where Swisher made three pretty good plays, one of which momentarily kept the Indians from scoring. Yankee Stadium was going nuts, and Swisher was smiling from ear to ear. “Oh man!” Swisher said. “I don’t know if I’ve made three outs in an inning like that, and the place was going crazy, man! It was great, man.”
• Swisher is in better shape than last year, and he’s not sure he would have gotten to all three of those balls last season. “I don’t know about that,” he said. “An extra 10, 15 pounds, that can cut off a couple feet here or there. That’s the one thing me and Rob Thomson have really worked on. I feel like I am a pretty good outfielder, and I don’t think many people think that. So I try to go out there and give it everything I have every day.”
• Mark Teixeira was hit by a pitch in the hand but stayed in the game. Girardi said he’s fine. The ball got him on the lowest knuckle.
• The Yankees have 115 homers, their most all-time through 72 games.
• We’ll give the last word to Swisher just because, it’s Swisher, and he’s as pumped as ever. “We just came off of a great series against the Mets,” Swisher said. “And we come here today and put up some big runs early. I think that’s the one thing you can always debate. Whether winning causes fun, or fun causes winning. But I feel like we have both of those right now. We come to the ballpark, (and) we think we’re going to be successful every single day. It’s just a great feeling to have right now.”
Associated Press photos