By Bob Dutton The News Tribune
NEW YORK — It was a cold, wet miserable Tuesday in the South Bronx but beautiful nonetheless for Robinson Cano in his return to Yankee Stadium.
Corey Hart’s two-run double highlighted a four-run fifth inning that carried the Mariners to a 6-3 victory over the New York Yankees in the start to a three-game series.
He was booed at every turn by a sparse crowd (announced as 37,484) for his decision last December to trade his pinstripes, after nine years with the Yankees, for a massive free-agent contract with the Mariners.
“I’m not surprised,” he said. “Like I said, I’m going to get some cheers and boos. I knew I was going to get some boos. That’s not something I can control.”
The Mariners also beat a long-time nemesis in CC Sabathia, who had beaten them in eight consecutive decisions and entered the game with a 12-4 record against them in his career. Sabathia (3-3) gave up four runs and nine hits before departing in the sixth inning.
“I think we, collectively, had good at-bats,” said catcher Mike Zunino, who had a career-high four hits. “I think CC threw the ball really well today, but (we were) patient and worked the pitch count.”
Mariners starter Chris Young (1-0) got his first victory since Sept. 2, 2012, by holding the Yankees to two runs and three hits in 52⁄3 innings before Charlie Furbush, Danny Farquhar and Fernando Rodney closed it out.
“I pitched well enough to win,” said Young, who missed nearly all of last season while recovering from thoracic outlet surgery.
“That’s the goal. The team wins, I’m happy. If you lose 1-0, you’re upset with the pitch you made that didn’t get it done. And tonight, I made enough quality pitches that it gave the team a chance.”
It got interesting in the ninth when the Yankees nicked Rodney for three straight one-out hits, which produced a run and brought the tying run to the plate.
Rodney closed it out by striking out Derek Jeter and Carlos Beltran.
“I’ve always said the toughest three outs in baseball to get are the last three outs at Yankee Stadium,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “So no surprise.”
The Mariners trailed 2-0 before breaking through in the fifth inning after winning a replay challenge. Zunino was initially called out on a leadoff grounder to second base, but replays showed he beat the throw for a single.
Willie Bloomquist’s single past first moved Zunino to third before Abraham Almonte reached on a bunt single when second baseman Brian Roberts was slow to cover first.
Sabathia struck out Stefen Romero, which brought Cano to the plate with the bases loaded and one out. Cano grounded out to first, which scored a run.
Hart followed with a two-run double past center fielder Brett Gardner for a 3-2 lead. Justin Smoak then lined an RBI single to right, and it was 4-2.
“I thought (Sabathia) had really good stuff tonight,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s hard to believe he gave up those four runs.”
The Mariners added two more runs in the seventh on two-out RBI singles by Dustin Ackley and Kyle Seager. They finished with 15 hits, including at least one from nine different players.
“We wanted to go out and play well (for Cano),” Zunino admitted. “Obviously, anytime we can have his back coming into a place where he was such a great player. We knew he wanted to come and play well here.
“I’m happy we could do that for him.”
Cano was 1-for-5 with two strikeouts and three routine infield grounders. One of those grounders drove in a run. Another resulted in a single, which turned into a run.
“I’ve gotten used to not seeing him here,” Jeter said. “But seeing him in another uniform, because we don’t play him in the spring, is kind of an odd picture.”
Cano’s first at-bat prompted loud boos — until he struck out. Then cheers ringed the stadium.
When the Mariners took the field, the roll-call battalion in right field serenaded Cano not with his name but with a mix of “You struck out” and “You sold out.”
The usual roll-call response is a wave; Cano did nothing as the chant boomed.
“I didn’t hear that,” he said. “But whatever the fans say, I can’t control that. I don’t want to say they’re wrong or they’re right.”
On this night, at least, Cano had the last laugh.