Robinson Cano makes his highly anticipated return to Yankee Stadium with the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m. He was the second baseman for the Yankees for nine seasons, was a five-time All-Star, helped the team win the World Series in 2009 and never played less than 159 games from 2007-2013. He hit a career-high 33 homers in 2012 and drove in a career-high 118 runs in 2011. He is likely the best second baseman in franchise history.
However, he will likely get a mixed reaction, or more people will boo him than cheer him, since he often did not run as fast as he could when going to first base. This did not take away from his productive average or impressive power stats. Another reason people will boo Cano is that he said that “I didn’t feel respect” from the Yankees after they offered him a $175 million contract. This obviously did not make sense since his contract was worth $25 million a season, but it is hard to blame him for taking a contract that was worth $65 million more, as Derek Jeter said. However, taking the contract meant he valued the money more than being able to win with the Yankees.
The Mariners have lost seven of their past 10 games and enter the series in fourth place in the American League West. However, they beat the Texas Rangers on Sunday after scoring a run in the seventh and three in the eighth to get the 6-5 win. The Yankees have won five of their past seven and are in first place in the AL East.
Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker, who were both expected to be important members of their rotation, have been on the disabled list since spring training. Neither of them will be able to return for the series at Yankee Stadium.
On Tuesday night, CC Sabathia (3-2, 4.78 ERA), who is coming off of two dominating starts after struggling in his first three, will get the start for the Yankees. In his last start, on April 24 against the Boston Red Sox, he struck out eight batters and only allowed two runs in six innings. He is learning how to pitch with decreased velocity on his fastball and is locating his secondary pitches much better than he was in the beginning of April. Only one of the seven Mariners who previously have hit against Sabathia have an average above .222.
Chris Young, a 6-10 right who is in his 10th season in the majors, will get his fourth start of the season. Iwakuma or Walker will likely replace him in the rotation once they are healthy. Young has a 3.50 ERA his season, but has 10 strikeouts and 11 walks this season. Since he has not been able to find his control the Yankees will look to be patient because walks tend to set up RBI opportunities.
Wednesday night’s contest, at 7:05 p.m, will be one in which a fill-in starter (David Phelps) and a rookie starter (Roenis Elias) will be facing each other. Phelps will get the start as a result of Michael Pineda’s 10-game suspension due to his pine tar usage. This will be Phelps’s 25th start of his career as a Yankee and he has a 4.39 ERA in his previous 24 starts. Elias has a 3.54 ERA and 21 strikeouts in five starts this season.
Seattle’s ace, “King” Felix Hernandex, will start the series finale on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. Hiroki Kuroda, who has struggled this season as he has a 7.02 ERA in his last three games, will start for the Yankees. So far this season Kuroda has a 5.28 ERA and only 18 strikeouts. Kuroda basically said after his last start,where he allowed 6 earned runs in 4.2 innings, that he struggled to locate all of his pitches. He needs to be able to throw his sinker and slider for strikes and not leave them up in the zone to be able to have a quality start.
The Yankees pitching staff should be able to find success during this series since out of 30 teams, the Mariners are 25th in runs scored, 26th in team average and 28th in on-base percentage. Outside of Cano, who has a .301 average and 11 RBIs and could find his power as he has hit many homers past the short porch in right at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees have to pay attention to Kyle Seager. His .228 average is deceptive since five homers and 11 RBIs in his last four games.
Here is Cano’s appearance on Jimmy Fallon on Monday where he talked about advice that Jeter gave him early in his career: