"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

Photo: AP

When the Yankees played the Tigers in the 2006 ALDS, Jim Leyland referred to the power-laden Bronx Bombers as Murders’ Row and Robbie Cano. In game one of the 2011 ALDS, Cano demonstrated what many have known for some time. The Yankees’ second baseman is no longer a supporting member of the lineup. He has become the heart and soul.

Joe Girardi’s decision to elevate Cano to the three-hole came just before the start of the playoffs, but it only took one game for the move to pay immediate dividends. In his third at bat of the game (and second of the evening), the Yankees’ second baseman broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth by driving a Doug Fister fastball off the very top of the wall for an RBI double. The play, which was reviewed but upheld, was reminiscent of Todd Zeile’s two-base hit in game one of the 2000 World Series, but unlike Timo Perez, Curtis Granderson never stopped running.  Of course, if Jeffrey Maier had been in the stands, Cano would have been circling the bases too.

One inning later, after Brett Gardner singled home two runs, Cano struck again, this time belting a grand slam deep into the right field second deck off reliever Al Alburquerque. The bases clearing homer was Cano’s sixth of the year, but only the eleventh in Yankees’ postseason history. The second baseman further added his name to the record book by driving in another run with a double in the eighth inning, giving him a franchise high six RBIs in one postseason game.

Most RBIs by a Yankee in One Postseason Game

Player Date Series Opp Rslt PA R H 2B HR RBI
Robinson Cano 10/1/2011 ALDS DET W9-3 5 1 3 2 1 6
Hideki Matsui 11/4/2009 WS PHI W7-3 4 1 3 1 1 6
Bernie Williams 10/5/1999 ALDS TEX W8-0 5 1 3 1 1 6
Bobby Richardson 10/8/1960 WS PIT W10-0 5 1 2 0 1 6

Source: Baseball-reference.com

The reason Cano had a chance to break the game open was because Ivan Nova kept the Tigers off the scoreboard until the ninth inning. Although he was technically making a relief appearance, Nova became the defacto third Yankees’ rookie to start a postseason series opener and showed little signs of being overwhelmed by the experience. The Yankees have seen a sharper Nova, but he still limited the Tigers to only two hits until taking a hard hit grounder off his backside in the ninth. Detroit wound up scoring two runs in the final frame, but it did little to detract from Nova’s strong outing.

Before the Yankees broke out with the bats, Nova also got some help from his defense. With runners on first and second in the top of the fifth, Jhonny Peralta lined a single to center, but Alex Avila was gunned down by a great relay from Jeter, who, as often seems to be the case during the postseason, found himself in the perfect position to handle Curtis Granderson’s throw from centerfield. Jeter’s toss to Russell Martin allowed the Yankees’ catcher to apply a swipe tag and turned aside the one real threat the Tigers had during the game.

Youngest Yankees’ Pitchers to Start a Post Season Opener

Player Age Year Series Opp Result IP ER GSc
Waite Hoyt 24.031 1923 WS NYG L 4-5 2 1/3 4 32
Jim Beattie 24.091 1978 ALCS KCR W 7-1 5 1/3 1 58
Andy Pettitte 24.116 1996 ALCS BAL W 5-4 7 4 47
Andy Pettitte 24.127 1996 WS ATL L 1-12 2 1/3 7 17
Doyle Alexander 26.042 1976 WS CIN L 1-5 6 5 33
C.-Ming Wang 26.186 2006 ALDS DET W 8-4 6 2/3 3 49
Don Gullett 26.272 1977 ALCS KCR L 2-7 2 4 30
Don Gullett 26.278 1977 WS LAD W 4-3 8 1/3 3 61
Whitey Ford 26.342 1955 WS BRO W 6-5 8 3 46
Spec Shea 26.363 1947 WS BRO W 5-3 5 1 60

Note: Underline indicates rookie.
Source: Baseball-reference.com

After all the rain, and all the runs, the Yankees still needed Mariano Rivera to slam the door on the Tigers’ rally in the ninth. Summoning the great closer might have been overkill, but it was also an appropriate way to end another Yankees’ postseason victory. With three dynamite cutters, Rivera struck out Betemit and sent the crowd home happy one day after they departed the Stadium soaking wet. I guess good things do come to those who wait. It also doesn’t hurt to have Robinson Cano.


1 William J.   ~  Oct 2, 2011 12:42 am

One correction: Cano has four grand slams this season, not six.

2 cult of basebaal   ~  Oct 2, 2011 4:16 am


Wait, am I overplaying my hand there???

3 NYYfan22   ~  Oct 2, 2011 6:52 am

Excellent write-up, William. I love your use of stats to put the posteseason history in perspective.

I missed seeing all but the top of the 9th due to a gig in Brooklyn. But I was listening on my way home, and got to watch the postgame on YES.

4 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Oct 2, 2011 7:01 am

Watching the game now on mlb.com. Ahh..another great Jorge base running adventure!

5 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Oct 2, 2011 7:11 am

Doyle Fister just K'd Granderson, but he's not so impressive. Neither is this announcing team..Darling is OK but the other guys nothing special.

6 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Oct 2, 2011 7:26 am

So many shots of Jim Leyland..hope they catch him smoking at some point and then have to "apologize to the kids"..

7 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Oct 2, 2011 7:28 am

Miguel Cabrera looks more than a bit pudgy..so then, he's a fat drunk who hits better than almost anyone in baseball..it's an odd game..

8 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Oct 2, 2011 7:33 am

Ooh, Ron Darling with the Warren Zevon namedrop!

9 RIYank   ~  Oct 2, 2011 7:45 am

As I recall, many listeners were taken aback by the "Murderers' Row and Cano" remark, thinking he was dismissing Rob. But it was clear (esp. in light of follow-up comments) that he meant something like, "you have to get through these big names, and then even after that there's still this phenomenal kid waiting to bash your brains in."

Hello, Mr OK. Imagine how that Posada base-running blunder felt to us who didn't know the final outcome at the time.

10 Sliced Bread   ~  Oct 2, 2011 7:50 am

I love when our "home grown" guys put on a show in the playoffs.
It may be silly, but I take more pride out of these kinds of wins.
I was a Bernie guy, and I've been a Robbie guy since he came up. I remember debates around here when he wasnt playing well, people wanted him to be demoted or traded. I always thought he'd come around. It was the same thing in the early years with Bernie.
The Banter record shows I've always liked Nova, as well. He hasn't always gotten good results since he came up, and fans had doubts about him. I've always admired his poise on the mound, and his command of his pitches. I knew he was a keeper.
Props to Cashman, if i recall correctly, for making him the deal breaker in the trade that would have sent Montero to Seattle for Cliff Lee. I really wanted Lee, I mean, who didn't, but I'm glad we still have Nova and Montero.
Winning is more special to me when guys the Yanks have developed come up big, as they did last night

11 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Oct 2, 2011 7:51 am

Wow, what a great relay! Love the postseason D!

12 Sliced Bread   ~  Oct 2, 2011 7:52 am

9) yeah that's how I remember taking the Cano remark. I don't think it was a dis.

13 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Oct 2, 2011 7:52 am

[9] Hi RIYank, I havn't checked the game thread yet but can imagine..that Jorge "running" was incredible, beyond awful!
[10] Agree! Yanks have always had so many home grown players despite what the media promotes.

14 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Oct 2, 2011 8:04 am

Darling on fire tonight, "Yanks have a cocoon of excellence around Cano"..

15 kenboyer made me cry   ~  Oct 2, 2011 8:14 am

[10] Nova always demonstrated a calm demeanor and maturity beyond his years from his first game. His consistency is remarkable for a big buy, and he just seems quiet out there.

And for breakfast...Nova Lox down the Tigers!

16 RIYank   ~  Oct 2, 2011 8:16 am

[14] Yeah, that was a nice line. So, what, he's a butterfly? Maybe better not to tell him that, especially in his native tongue.

Did everyone see that John Henry was injured yesterday, on his yacht? You know that endears him to the fans. And then his wife twittered that John is fine, and that he was home in time for the big Liverpool soccer match.
You can't make this stuff up.

17 RIYank   ~  Oct 2, 2011 8:18 am

[15] Puts up half a dozen bagels... Cano creamed Fister's cheese (except it was a hanging slider, I know)...
Ah, Sunday mornings!

18 kenboyer made me cry   ~  Oct 2, 2011 8:23 am

And William, thanks for the write-up.

That first double by Cano should have been a home run. Unlike the Jeffrey Maier catch, this one bounced on top of the wall, and was basically over the first row before curving back on to the field. All a fan had to do was touch it (it was beyond the fence) for the hit to be a HR.

In discussions a few weeks ago the argument for Granderson as MVP is trumped by the fact that Cano is the MVP of the Yankees. He might not have all the numbers, but we know.

19 William J.   ~  Oct 2, 2011 8:40 am

[9] It was absolutely meant to be a complement. That lineup had Cano, a .342 hitter, batting ninth! Of course, by game 4, it had Arod, one of the greatest players ever, batting 8th.

I really think Girardi deserves a ton of credit for passing the baton to Cano and installing him as third hitter. I am also very happy to see Tex acknowledge that he has to go back to using the whole field (and doing it too). If Arod gets going, this could be a dynamic middle of the order.

20 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Oct 2, 2011 8:41 am

[16] Hey, yachts are DANGEROUS. Very slippery with all the spilled champagne and sun lotion. Give John H a break, he's in suffering right now..
Great 6th inning, and sounds rowdy at the stadium.

21 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Oct 2, 2011 8:50 am

That Cano tater was just gorgeous. And off of Albeeekerkee Al of all people!

22 ms october   ~  Oct 2, 2011 9:01 am

[10] yeah i feel good that i was an early adopter of nova too.

[19] yep that hit that tex drove to lf was also a great sight to see last night.

[16] you really can't make these things up - unreal. it's great that they have assembled a team that much of rsn hates now.

23 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Oct 2, 2011 9:06 am

[22] Hey ms october, the blowback against the Sox is beautiful. I saw this morning an article ripping Boy Genius' free agent signings (they have been pretty awful) and just destroying John Henry..I'm immature enough to be enjoying this Bahstan turmoil greatly.

Time for slumber here, hope I wake up to another win. Bit damn these starting times, having bad luck so far being home to watch live.

24 Yankee Mama   ~  Oct 2, 2011 10:09 am

Does the epic collapse of 2011 mean that Bahstan can no longer gloat over the events of 2004? I feel like the universe has finally righted itself.

25 randym77   ~  Oct 2, 2011 10:39 am

[24] The Curse of the Bambino is back! Or maybe never really went away...

26 T. Hawk   ~  Oct 2, 2011 11:43 am

I was a beneficiary of the postponement, as a friend's wife didn't want to trek up to the stadium from LI two nights in a row (esp. with rain again in the forecast).

I gotta say, I had a blast. The crowd was great; there was a lot of fun with Tigers fans, most of whom took the (verbal) abuse well. In fact, it was a Yankee fan - well in his cups - who got escorted out of my section to cheers, he was so annoying.

Cano had a great night no doubt but I feel like it's overshadowing the fact that Gardner's was the key hit. Cano's grand slam was epic though.

Look at the moxie on Nova ... Sure he ran out of steam at the end but Ayala's (incredibly frustrating at that hour) ineffectiveness set up an unexpected and awesome appearance by The Sandman.

Great night!

27 T. Hawk   ~  Oct 2, 2011 11:45 am

[24] Unfortunately no. 2004 is still worse - and it was at Boston's hands. Until the Yankees do something comparable to them, they can bash us with it.

28 RIYank   ~  Oct 2, 2011 11:51 am

[26] Extreme envy.

So what's the weather look like? I see the forecast is for 'isolated showers', but it's the same for my neighborhood and holy shit it is pouring. Like 2"/hour pouring.

29 NYYfan22   ~  Oct 2, 2011 11:54 am

Yankees just posted the lineup for today vs. Scherzer:

Posada (DH)

30 William J.   ~  Oct 2, 2011 1:21 pm

[27] Disagree completely. There is no shame in losing four straight games to a very good team. It happens all the time. Boston's collapse this September was not only lengthy, but involved some pretty bad teams. The Red Sox collapse of 2011 easily beats the 2004 ALCS loss on the choke meter.

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