Robinson Cano found himself in foreign territory when he walked into the Yankees' clubhouse on Wednesday morning.
Because of Mark Teixeira's injury in Game 4, Cano was hitting in the No. 3 spot in the lineup in a win-or-go-home Game 5.
In more than 3,500 big-league at-bats, he'd hit in the third spot just 19 times.
But at the end of the day on Wednesday, Cano showed you it didn't matter where he hits in the lineup these days. He's going to hit. Period.
The second baseman continued his postseason coming-out party in Game 5, connecting for a solo homer in the third inning, the second of back-to-back homers from he and Nick Swisher.
Cano has four homers in the ALCS, tying a record held by nine others, including Josh Hamilton, who has matched Cano homer for homer in the series.
Hamilton and Cano are just the second pair of players in any single postseason series to hit at least four home runs apiece. In 2008, Rays teammates B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria each hit four home runs in the ALCS. Cano is also the first Yankee to hit four homers in the ALCS.
It’s a shame the votes are already in, because Cano and Hamilton are playing like they're still campaigning for the AL MVP award.
Cano is hitting .421 with four homers, five RBIs and a 1.105 slugging percentage through five ALCS games. Hamilton is batting .316 with four homers and seven RBIs.
“You hear the constant MVP chants in Texas and New York, and it’s going to be interesting to see who gets it when it’s all said and done,” Curtis Granderson said.
Without Cano in this series, the Yankees would probably be planning their winter getaways.
The second baseman hit a solo homer in the seventh inning of Game 1 that ignited the Yankees’ rally from five runs down. He then had a game-tying single in the eighth to help complete their improbable comeback.
“It’s as good as it gets,” Girardi said of Cano’s bat in this series.
No one knew what to expect from Cano coming into the postseason.
He’d hit just .217 in previous postseasons, with more strikeouts (15) than RBIs (14) in 28 career games entering the 2010 playoffs.
But Cano held to his regular season form (.319 BA, 29 HR, 109 RBIs) in the ALDS, going 4-for-12. And he's followed that up with a torrid series against Texas.
"All year long he’s been our MVP. I think he hit about .700 in spring training, he’s just been on a roll since,” Brett Gardner said. "It's been fun to watch."