Whenever the doom and gloom got a little too thick around the Yankees this offseason, one way to reel people in from the edge of the cliff was to remind them that they still featured Robinson Cano in the middle of the lineup.
As ugly as other names might have looked, Cano's name looked perfect anchoring a lineup with the kind of bat that can carry your team for a week or two when nothing else is going right. That bat did not show up out of the gate this season, leaving the Yankees offense to look like the toothless tiger that so many feared for most of the first six games of the season.
On Monday, Cano finally showed up. Unsurprisingly, he brought the rest of the offense with him.
Cano hit his first two home runs of the season and added a double to spearhead the liveliest Yankee attack of the year. The result was an 11-6 win and the first winning streak of the young season.
Cano wound up scoring four times on Monday afternoon as the Indians couldn't find a way to keep the one Yankee who can beat you from beating them. They followed the same script that other teams have been following, feeding Cano pitches away in hopes that he'd roll over on them while trying to pull them to the right side but Cano went with those pitches and drove them the other way to great effect.
It's amazing what a difference a good game from your best player can make on the overall impression that your team makes over nine innings. The Yankees didn't look like a team that had to rub two sticks together in hopes of creating an offensive spark; they looked like they had a book of matches and a bucket filled with accelerant.
It helped that Travis Hafner celebrated his return to Cleveland by homering and driving in four runs, providing further evidence that the Yankee lineup will have some weapons at its disposal if they can stop watching players shuffle off to the disabled list. It also helped that Hiroki Kuroda was able to bounce back from an ugly first inning in his first start since injuring his finger last week.
Those are helpful things, though, and helpful things don't get it done all by themselves. There needs to be a driving force that the helpers are aiding in the effort.
Cano is the Yankee driving force and Monday was the first time he made it to the ballpark this season.