Detroit manager Jim Leyland once referred to the potent lineup of the New York Yankees as "Murderers' Row and Cano". Leyland and the Tigers will try to slow down Robinson Cano this afternoon when they play Game 2 of the American League Division Series against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
Cano is no longer just a cog in the lineup, as he was back in 2006 when the Tigers beat the Yankees in the ALDS. He has emerged as one of the best hitters in baseball and on Saturday he gave his team the series lead, belting a grand slam with six RBI in New York's 9-3 victory.
"It's not about one player; it's about the whole team," said Cano, who has been moved up to the three-hole in the lineup. "But they put me in a spot that they had to pitch to me. It's good the way that came through tonight. We're not going to take it for granted."
Cano tied Bernie Williams' Game 1 performance in 1999 for the club record for RBI in an ALDS game.
"It's a kid that has grown and blossomed into quite a player," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Robbie knows how to handle it."
This game had been started on Friday, but with the score knotted at 1-1 steady rain forced the tarp to come on the field before the bottom of the second started. After waiting for over an hour, MLB decided to suspend play until Saturday.
Rookie Ivan Nova (1-0), who was 16-4 this season with a 3.70 ERA, replaced Friday's starter CC Sabathia and was magnificent, as he was charged with two runs on four hits over 6 1/3 innings. He struck out five and walked four.
"He almost allowed us to not use our bullpen at all. I love what he did today," Girardi said.
The Tigers had 24-game winner and American League Cy Young Award frontrunner Justin Verlander on the hill when the rain came on Friday. But, on Saturday, they turned to Doug Fister (0-1), who went 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA in 11 games (10 starts) after being picked up from Seattle. However, he gave up six runs on seven hits over 4 2/3 innings.
"I really thought he pitched very, very well," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of Fister. "The numbers won't look like that because of the grand slam."
Delmon Young had homered on Friday for the Tigers, who are back in the postseason for the first time since 2006 thanks to their first-ever AL Central title.
Today, the Yankees will hand the ball to crafty right-hander Freddy Garcia, who was 12-8 with a 3.62 ERA. Garcia was a pleasant surprise for New York this season, but this will be his first postseason start since beating Houston for the Chicago White Sox in the 2005 World Series
"I've got to be happy," Garcia said. "If I pitch good enough, I get a chance to get in the playoffs. They gave me the shot to start one of the games."
Garcia, who is 18-8 with a 3.88 ERA in 32 starts versus the Tigers, is 6-2 with a 3.11 ERA in nine career postseason games with Chicago and Seattle.
Detroit will counter with righty Max Scherzer, who was 15-9 this season with a 4.43 ERA.
"He's an outstanding young arm with real good stuff and he's still learning the art of pitching," Leyland said. "He's got a huge upside. There's no question about that. He can throw the ball 97 mph, 96 mph. He has a very deceptive changeup. He's very young. We think he has a bright, bright future."
Scherzer beat the Yankees twice this season and is a perfect 3-0 in three starts against them. However, he did serve up four home runs and allowed six runs in five innings of 10-7 win at Yankee Stadium to open his season.
The Tigers, who beat the Yankees in four games in the 2006 ALDS after losing Game 1, also took four of seven from the Yanks during this season after the two teams split the eight-game season series a year ago.