NEW YORK — Robinson Cano hit a grand slam and drove in six runs, rookie Ivan Nova pitched brilliantly into the ninth inning in an unusual relief appearance and the New York Yankees shook off a 23-hour rain delay to beat the Detroit Tigers 9-3 in their suspended playoff opener Saturday night.
A day after rain wiped out aces Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia after only 1½ innings, the game resumed in the bottom of the second. No national anthem, all Yankees.
Cano barely missed a homer on his tiebreaking double in the fifth and New York broke it open with a six-run sixth against Doug Fister. Brett Gardner had a two-run single with two outs to make it 4-1 and, moments later, Cano connected off Al Alburquerque for his fourth grand slam since Aug. 11.
“I always say things happen for a reason,” Cano said. “We couldn’t play last night, but we played today and we ended up winning the game.”
Freddy Garcia starts for New York on Sunday afternoon in Game 2 of the best-of-five American League division series. Max Scherzer gets the ball for the Tigers, who will try to rebound the same way they did against the Yankees in 2006.
That year, Detroit dropped the series opener in New York before winning three straight to stun the heavily favored Yankees in the first round. Game 2 of that playoff was postponed a day by rain. This time, it took two nights to finish the opener.
Along with Curtis Granderson, Cano is one of New York’s two leading contenders for AL MVP — and he showed why. Yankees manager Joe Girardi moved the slugger up from fifth to third in the lineup for the playoffs to get him more protection and pitches to hit.
Cano added a run-scoring double in the eighth to tie a club record for RBIs in a postseason game. His seventh career postseason homer was the 11th slam in Yankees postseason history and the first since Ricky Ledee connected in the 1999 AL championship series against Boston.
“I wasn’t looking for a home run, just looking for a pitch I can make good contact and at least get one RBI,” Cano said. “It ended up being a grand slam.”