(with apologies to John Sterling, although I should probably be apologizing FOR him, but that’s another blog post…)
Every one in a while, it happens to a sports fan, more specifically, to a baseball fan. Maybe things aren’t going your way, maybe your team has not gotten any breaks, or the Karma seems against you. Then you get this feeling, one you can’t put a finger on, that says that someone is going to take over a game and you will like that feeling a whole lot. Well, it happened last night and I must admit, it left me smiling and feeling better about things. As a matter of fact, it happened twice.
The set up: The first ALDS game between the Yankees and Tigers was suspended after 1 ½ innings on Friday night and a first thought was, we just can’t catch a break. Our big gun, CC Sabathia was going up against Jason Verlander, Tiger gunslinger and the game was tied, rained on and suspended until the next day. Unlike ticket holders who can use their tickets from the suspended game CC was down for at least a day or two. Our ace was slightly used and destined to wait until Monday or even Tuesday to pitch again. This was not a good thing.
This brings us to Saturday night and resumed suspended game. Rookie Ivan Nova gets the “relief” start as the game is picked up in the bottom of the second inning and after a couple of good plays here and there, you look up at the scoreboard and realize, he is pitching a gem. A real post season classic. Only a couple of hits. Nova was taking the place of the ace, and was performing better than the ace. I’m not really sure many people saw that coming, myself included. Hoping for the best and expecting the worst, I figured maybe the Yankees can score a bunch of runs. And, even though Nova didn’t need them now, they delivered them in quick order and this is where that feeling comes in.
Robbie Cano can probably be best described as a beast on the baseball field. Nice guy, mild mannered kid, but give him a bat and he makes things happen. With that quick, left handed swing, he can drive the ball a mile or miss it completely but that is the price one must pay for the type of success he has. He went to the All Star Game this past July and surprised many of us by winning the home run hitting contest. Not that we didn’t think he could hit homeruns, but his ability to be consistent throughout the contest helped him grab the trophy from several other “celebrated” home run hitters and this was somewhat new for him.
Now, to the game itself. In the first inning on Friday, Cano grounded out. In his second at bat of the game, now Saturday, he…grounded out again. Nothing seems to be looming but I just was having one of those feelings. Cano would do something – good or bad, he was going to be in the middle of things. When the Yankees threw a runner out at the plate in the top of the fifth inning, the feeling was there that something was going to happen. Then Cano began his show. Already 0 for 2, two routine groundouts, he came up with a runner on first and hit a ball right off the top of the fence in left field, so close that the umpires had to review it before confirming it a double, to the dismay of fans. One run in, Yankees ahead. So then Cano must have felt energized, because the next time up, he hit a ball into the second deck, with the bases load for 4 more RBI’s. He must have liked this turn of events so much, he hit an 8th inning double to drive in another. Three consecutive hits, all big, long majestic ones and 6 RBI’s. It was a weeks worth of production in about 1 ½ hours of work.
This is where that feeling comes up. No one I know predicted that Cano was going to have a big game tonight, but I have had this feeling he is going to do something big this post season. Perhaps this is the post season he grabs the title of Mr. Clutch. Perhaps this is the post season where he does what we always had hoped that ARod was going to do every post season. I think maybe this is the post season he wins a playoff MVP. He has a good start in that general direction.