Cano knocked out of All-Star Game; Mo honored

How bad has the Yankees’ luck been this year? In terms of health, I mean. The disabled list has been almost as crowded as the dugout. Even in the All-Star Game, the Yankees could not stay healthy.

Robinson Cano, the American League second baseman and one of the few Yankees regulars to stay on the field all season, made an early exit Tuesday night from Citi Field. Cano, the second hitter in the AL order, came up after a leadoff double by the Angels’ Mike Trout and was struck on the side of his right knee by a 96-miles-per-hour fastball from Mets righthander Matt Harvey.

Cano winced in pain and tried to stay in the game. He went to first base but after Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera struck out Cano came off the field and was replaced by pinch runner Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox. As Cano walked off the field, he had a friendly exchange with Harvey.

“He said, ‘My bad,’ ” Cano said. “I said, ‘No problem.’ I know he don’t want to hit nobody. It’s part of the game, so what can you do?”

This is just what the Yankees did not need. Managers across baseball watch the All-Star Game with trepidation and hope one of their players does not get hurt. Harvey, the National League starting pitcher who pitched two scoreless innings, said, “I feel bad. I didn’t mean to hit Cano.”

X-rays on Cano’s knee were negative.

“It’s a little tight, but I’m walking good,” Cano said. “You want to play the game and enjoy the nice city in New York with the fans, but that’s part of life. Got to get it better and take it easy. Yeah, I’ll be good for Friday.”

“Obviously, the last thing I wanted to do was go out there and possibly injure somebody,” Harvey said. “As [Cano] was walking by, I was trying to get his attention as he was going to first. He then came off the field, and I apologized and made sure that he was okay. I think he understood that it wasn’t intentional.”

Cano had been enjoying himself at the All-Star Game as opposed to a year ago at Kansas City when he was the target of booing from local fans because as captain of the AL Home Run Derby squad he did not name the Royals’ Billy Butler to the team. Cano got revenge Monday night as a player he promoted for the Home Run Derby team even though he was not on the All-Star squad, Athletics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, won the competition.

Not surprisingly considering the Yankees-Mets rivalry, Cano was booed by most people in the Citi Field crowd in pregame introductions. Conversely, Mariano Rivera was accorded a healthy ovation. In a lot of ways, Mo is his generation’s Yogi Berra, the one Yankee that even fans who hate the Yankees like.

The best was yet to come for Mo. To guarantee that Rivera would pitch in the game, AL manager Jim Leyland of the Tigers put him in the game in the eighth inning. After all, if the NL had gone ahead in the bottom of the eighth and held the lead then there would have been no bottom of the ninth.

Rivera was treated with another standing ovation as he trotted to the mound to his usual entrance song, “Enter Sandman,” by Metallica. When he reached the rubber, Rivera was the only player on the field as the players from both sides stood on the top steps of the dugouts and joined the crowd in showing their appreciation to the game’s all-time saves leader who is calling it a career at the end of this season at the age of 43.

It was quite a sight. Mo acknowledged the applause by removing his cap and waving to each portion of the crowd. Mariano retired the side in order and was given the game ball by first baseman Prince Fielder after the third out of the inning. It was a more pleasant final appearance at Citi Field than the May 28 Subway Series game when he sustained his first blown save of the season in a stunning loss to the Mets.

Mo Mariano Rivera (USA Today photo)

“I wanted to pitch in the game and in baseball anything can happen,” Rivera said of pitching in the eighth instead of the ninth. “The plan worked out perfectly. This was right up there with winning the World Series. To do this in New York with all the fans here and all the players and the coaches and the managers standing in the dugouts. . .that was priceless.”

There turned out to be a bottom of the ninth inning as the AL had a 3-0 lead. Rangers closer Joe Nathan worked the ninth and can always say he earned a save in a game after Mariano Rivera had pitched, which had not happened since 1996 when Mo was the setup man for Yanks closer John Wetteland.

Rivera was voted the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player and was able to thank the fans and told them it was a “privilege” to pitch in front of them all these years. Let’s face it, fans, the privilege was ours to watch him.

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