Updated: 8/23/10 7:03 a.m.
NEW YORK (AP) Robinson Cano looks as comfortable in the cleanup spot as CC Sabathia does on the Yankee Stadium mound.
Cano hit a grand slam and drove in a career-high six runs, Sabathia extended his home winning streak to 15 decisions and the New York Yankees routed the Seattle Mariners 10-0 on a rain-slicked field Sunday.
Austin Kearns and Jorge Posada also homered for the Yankees, who notched another win minus slugger Alex Rodriguez. New York is a confounding 12-0 this season without the three-time MVP, placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday with a strained left calf.
“It just shows you how deep our lineup is,” manager Joe Girardi said.
Cano is a big reason for that success. Making his own bid for an MVP award, the All-Star second baseman launched his 25th home run in the fifth inning off Luke French (2-4) on the first pitch following an intentional walk to Mark Teixeira.
Cano’s fourth career slam sailed into a rarely reached section of bleachers beyond the New York bullpen, making it 5-0 beneath a foreboding gray sky.
Bumped up to A-Rod’s cleanup spot, Cano homered in four wins on a 5-2 homestand against a pair of struggling teams, helping the Yankees (77-47) improve to a season-best 30 games over .500.
“Now it’s time for me to step it up and help the team win games,” said Cano, acknowledging that he feels an increased responsibility to produce until Rodriguez returns. “That’s his spot, not my spot.”
Since he joined the Yankees last season, Teixeira has been intentionally walked to load the bases 10 times. The batter behind him is 7 for 8 with four homers and 25 RBIs.
“I tried to look at what’s our best option to get out of that without giving up anything,” Mariners interim manager Daren Brown said. “Instead of trying to make five or six good pitches to Teixeira and Cano, you make a good pitch to Cano and maybe you get out of the inning with a ground ball.”
It was the 10th grand slam of the season for the AL East leaders, matching a franchise mark set in 1987 when Don Mattingly slugged a record six. Cano has two this year, both off left-handed pitchers.
“I’ve seen a difference with his situational hitting all year long,” Girardi said.
Entering the day, no other team in the majors had more than six grand slams.
Following a 57-minute rain delay in the middle of the sixth, Cano added a bases-loaded, two-run single off left-hander Chris Seddon to cap a three-run inning. Moments earlier, Eduardo Nunez’s grounder skidded to a sudden stop in a right-field puddle, forcing Ichiro Suzuki to splash through the wet grass and retrieve it as Nunez raced easily to second with a bizarre double.
Sabathia (17-5) held Seattle hitless until the fifth and became the AL’s first 17-game winner. He tied Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez and St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright for the major league lead in wins.
The big lefty is 15-0 with a 2.17 ERA in his past 20 regular-season starts at Yankee Stadium since the 2009 All-Star break. The team said it’s the longest home winning streak by a New York pitcher since Ron Guidry won 16 decisions in a row from 1985-86, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“You can give my wife credit for that, I guess. Her cooking,” Sabathia said with a smile. “I think it’s just one of those things that can’t be explained.”
Sabathia, who has won four consecutive starts and is 13-2 with a 2.32 ERA in 16 outings since June 3, was pulled following the rain delay. He allowed three hits over six innings, striking out eight and walking none for his third victory in three starts against the punchless Mariners this year.
Last-place Seattle, shut out for an AL-high 11th time this season, won four straight series before dropping two of three games at Yankee Stadium. The Mariners are 5-4 on a 12-game road trip that continues Monday in Boston, their longest since 2004.
“Not enough strikes,” said French, who threw 7 2-3 innings of three-hit ball in a 4-0 win at Baltimore in his previous outing. “My command was not good.”
NOTES: Kerry Wood and Joba Chamberlain finished the six-hitter. … Mariners LF Michael Saunders sat out with a sore right shoulder. Matt Tuiasosopo started in LF. … RHP Ivan Nova joined the Yankees after he was called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre but didn’t even have a nameplate above his locker yet. Nova, who made two scoreless relief appearances for New York in May, will get his first major league start Monday night in Toronto. He was 12-3 with a 2.86 ERA in 23 starts at Triple-A. “This is a big opportunity for me,” Nova said. “But you’ve got to be able to relax and enjoy it.”
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