Yankees Postgame Notebook: Cano gets last laugh in first game backRobinson Cano and the Mariners were victorious in Cano's return to the Bronx
It was a cold, windy, and eventually rainy night in the Bronx, one that kept the paid attendance of 37,484 in a bit of a damper all night, but no one - including starter CC Sabathia, who said "I've pitched in way worse playing so long in Cleveland" - would blame the Yankees' malaise on that.
"It was rough, but it's like that for both teams; it's not like they closed the roof when (Seattle) was up," Derek Jeter said. "I don't know what the temperature was, but the wind was blowing in circles. It was not ideal, but you can't do anything about the weather."
"Oh I've definitely seen worse, but it got bad the last couple innings," Yankees manager Joe Girardi added. "It's a bad situation with the weather pattern right now, but I've definitely seen worse."
The crowd's fervor was evident early, as Cano was soundly booed every time he strode to the plate, and those in attendance seemed to take extra joy in the fact that CC Sabathia struck him out on four pitches in his first at-bat.
"I figured there'd be some cheers and some boos, because people didn't want him to leave, but it's part of the game," Girardi said of the reaction. "But Robbie had a smile on his face, I did see that. He's the kind of guy that always has a smile on his face."
"This is New York. It is what it is. He left to make a better decision for him and his family, and people were going to be mad either way," Sabathia added.
Cano singled and eventually scored the Mariners' fifth run in the seventh inning, but by then, the damage was already done. Seattle starter Chris Young held the Yankees to just three hits and two runs (only one earned) in 5 2/3 innings, and outside of a hairy ninth for closer Fernando Rodney, the bullpen kept the Yankees in check over the final 10 outs.
"Chris Young has good stuff, and you have to lay off his pitches up in the zone and we didn't," Girardi said of the effort. "It looks like we squared some balls up, we just didn't square them up enough. It's frustrating; we started off good and didn't end up so good."
The good start saw Sabathia retire the first seven batters he faced, work out of jams in the third and fourth, and hold a 2-0 lead going to the fifth thanks in part to Mark Teixeira's second inning solo home run - a round-tripper that was Teixeira's third in five games.
"I think he's feeling more comfortable as he's getting at-bats; his season kind of got interrupted when he went on the DL for two weeks, but he's swinging the bat well," Girardi said of Teixeira.
Added the first baseman: "My swing feels a little bit better, but I still have a long way to go. I still haven't played that many games, but the last couple days I've put some good swings on balls, and it's good to see some balls getting out of the park. That's a good sign when you start driving the ball, because that's what I'm supposed to be doing."
The "not so good finish" started in the fifth inning, however, as the first three Mariners reached on an infield single (which was originally ruled an out but overturned on replay), a hard-hit single, and then a bunt by ex-Yankees farmhand Abraham Almonte that caught the Yankees off guard. Teixeira charged as Almonte squared - saying "that's the way I've been doing it for 12 years" - but Sabathia ended up fielding the bunt, and Brian Roberts could not get over from second base in time to cover the bag.
"B-Rob was playing up the middle, trying to cover second base if we can turn a double play, and having to get over is a lot," Sabathia said. "That's one of those plays where you just have to eat it."
"I took off, but it was just too far for me to be able to cover a double play and a bunt," Roberts added. "That's a situation where you have no idea what he's going to do, and it's unfortunate, because we needed to get an out there one way or another. With all the movement in the infield nowadays, sometimes you just get caught in a position where it's hard to cover two different things."
With the bases loaded, Sabathia struck out Stefan Romero and got Cano on a tricky one-hopper to Teixeira that scored a run, but CC couldn't finish the inning; Corey Hart broke the inning open with a two-run double that gave the Mariners the lead, and Justin Smoak followed with a single to make it 4-2.
"I felt like I made some good pitches to get the two outs, I just didn't make a good pitch to Corey," Sabathia said. "A changeup or a two-seamer there may have been a better pitch to try to get the first pitch swinging, but I just left a fastball that cut back across the plate and he put a good swing on it. It's frustrating, because I made the pitches to get two outs, I just didn't finish the inning."
Sabathia retired Dustin Ackley to end the inning, but he would leave after putting the first two runners on in the sixth, and the Mariners would tack on two more against Dellin Betances and Preston Claiborne in the seventh.
The Yankees tried to rally in the ninth against Fernando Rodney, scoring a one-out run thanks to an Ichiro single, Brian Roberts double, and Brett Gardner single, but Rodney struck out Derek Jeter and Carlos Beltran in succession to close the door on Cano's first win against his former team.
A few more notes from the Yankees' clubhouse following the game:
-Sabathia said it wasn't weird facing former teammate Cano, if only because he had seen him before while pitching with Cleveland: "If I'd had played with him my whole career like (Red Sox outfielder) Grady (Sizemore), maybe (it would be weird), but I'm kind of familiar with him if that makes sense."
-Jeter and Teixeira both said it was odd to see Cano in a new uniform, but Tex put a somewhat salient spin on it: "It was a little weird, but players change teams so much these days - I've played on four different teams myself. You have new teammates all the time, and it's a common occurrence."
-The Captain had a unique take on the fans' reaction to Cano: "If you asked everyone why they (booed), some people probably booed because they wish he was still here, some probably booed because they're upset he left, and some may have booed because the people next to them were booing. It is what it is."
-Teixeira's even more salient thoughts on the Cano reaction: "(The fans) brought out their best boos, but that's exactly what's expected. If you guys watched Jimmy Fallon last night, you saw what happens when he's actually out on the street. The fans are supposed to boo him when he's here. Robbie's a great guy who played his heart out when he was here, but that's sports; he's going to get booed."
-We'll give the last word to Jeter, who put a final stamp on Cano's first game back: "It's not the first time a guy has played here and left, and now it's over and done with, so hopefully the stories about what's going to happen when he comes back are over with."