One trip through the Blue Jays’ order and Hiroki Kuroda did not look long for this April Night. The first eleven batters racked up six hits, all bullets. Kuroda rolled a double play and stranded some runners, or else Toronto’s two homers would have accounted for more than the three runs they got. The Jays could be forgiven if they thought they were going to romp.
But Kuroda worked through his early-bird specials and began serving up the good stuff by striking out Jose Bautista to end the second. That began a string of 13 of 14 Jays who wouldn’t reach base – the only runner safe on Lyle Overbay’s error in the 4th. It was a resilient performance and the Yankees didn’t waste it.
Robinson Cano again tested the breadth of his back and found it stout enough to carry the team to victory with a three-run shot in the third. Francisco Cervelli and Vernon Wells bookended Cano with solo blasts and the scoring held at 5-3 for a satisfying Yankee win.
Cano’s homer came on a 3-1 “fastball” from Mark Buehrle. Buehrle seemed to hit his spot on the inside corner, but he had two problems – he threw it 86 MPH and he threw it to Robinson Cano. Cano’s so quick on the inside pitch that he can get the barrel to a much faster pitch in the same location. Say what you will about his hitting approach, he doesn’t often get jammed.
Flip to the ninth inning and consider what Mariano Rivera, pitching as well at 43 years old, I’m pretty confident, as any pitcher in Major League history, did to Colby Rasmus with pitches is the same vicinity. Obviously, the cutting action of Rivera’s pitch separates it from Buehrle’s, but even more telling than the pitch action and velocity is the swing path.
As Rasmus whiffed at two of Rivera’s insidious cutters and scragged a bat on a true devil, I drifted off imagining a match-up between Cano and Mo. I think Mariano would be able to use Robbie’s aggressiveness and get him to chase high pitches. But I bet Cano would fair better against the inside/outside cutter gambit than almost any other left-handed batter.
I snapped out of it just in time to witness a true
“Mo-Classic” (I woke up realizing that this should be a “Mo-fecta”) – three up, three down; strike out swinging, broken bat, strike out looking. I wonder how many times he’s done that in his career?
Photo by Kathy Willens via AP/ESPN