‘Hart of the Order’
By Sean Hartnett
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Thursday night will be looked back upon as the turning point in Robinson Cano’s season.

Cano went 3-for-4 against Tampa Bay Rays’ ace David Price, including the go-ahead two-run homer that pulled the New York Yankees ahead 4-2.

Price attempted to throw Cano off-balance with his slider but Cano waited back and exploded on the pitch, driving it deep into the right-centerfield bleachers.

The blast turned out to be the game-winner.

It was the kind of trademark swing that has makes Cano an annual contender to win the American League batting title.  One of these years, Cano will put together the consistency from start-to-finish to lead the AL in batting average.

The Yankees went on to win 5-3, taking 2 of 3 series games against the Rays.  Previously, Tampa convincingly swept the Yankees in their April home-opening series.  The first place Rays currently hold a 2.5 game advantage over the Yankees but Cano’s resurgence can help close that gap.

“I’ve really been feeling good all season.  Earlier in the season, it’s all about luck, just hitting the ball right at people. Tonight was a good night,” Cano told reporters after the Yankees’ victory.

Cano’s eight-game hitting streak has raised his average from .255 to .286.  Three of his past four games have been multi-hit games.  Manager Joe Girardi believes a productive Cano makes a huge impact on strengthening the Yankees’ lineup.

“It just really changes our lineup, because he’s so productive, and he’s dangerous any time he walks to the plate,” Girardi explained post-game. “We swung the bats extremely well against a very good pitcher tonight, and Robby was a big part of that,” he concluded.

For Cano, to get three hits off one of the game’s most dominant lefties in Price proves just how far he’s come around.  With Mark Teixeira showing no signs of breaking out of a horrendous slump, Cano is capable of carrying the Yankees’ offense when he’s at his best.

Thankfully, that won’t have to be the case as Curtis Granderson is enjoying a hot-start to 2012 with 11 home runs and 20 RBIs.  Alex Rodriguez appears to be finding his stroke as well.  Over the past 5 games, A-Rod has lifted his average from .260 to .287.

The Yankees could use this increased production from their lineup while their starting pitching has struggled.  Outside of last night’s superb starter CC Sabathia, the Yankees’ rotation has been inconsistent throughout 2012.  Sabathia has been the one bright spot as he’s strung together four consecutive eight-inning starts.

Even with Sabathia factored into the mix, the combined ERA of Yankee starters is an ugly 5.02.  Thankfully, Andy Pettitte will make his major league comeback on Sunday against the Seattle Mariners.

Cano’s revival can help cover up the cracks in the back-end of the Yankees’ rotation and give the Yankees the lift they need to push the Rays and Baltimore Orioles for first place.

Is Cano back to his old self?  Share your thoughts below and send your tweets to @HartnettWFAN.

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