<
>

From Robbie to Mo, the bond of 42


Sometimes it doesn't have to be 27 up and 27 down for a perfect game.

With all the players on both teams wearing No. 42, it was the man named after Jackie Robinson, Robinson Cano, who had the game's biggest hit, while the player who will be the last to regularly wear the number, Mariano Rivera, picked up the save.

The final score: Yankees 4, Diamondbacks 2. 4-2.

Both Cano and Rivera feel a special bond with Jackie Robinson. Cano is honored to be named after him, while Rivera cherishes that he will be the last to have the number on a daily basis.

To Cano, who wears No. 24, it makes perfect sense that the last man to regularly wear No. 42 will be the greatest closer of all time.

After batting practice on Tuesday, Cano made it a point to tell Rivera that he is the ideal man for the number.

"He is the right guy to have 42," Cano said.

Cano is hitting like a man who plans on carrying the Yankees until the injured reinforcements arrive. His three-run long ball in the fourth erased a two-run deficit. Cano has four home runs in the first 12 games. In 2012, it took him 39 games to knock four out of the park. Still, he finished with a career-high 33.

As Cano has gotten hot, so too have the Yankees. They have won six of seven to improve to 7-5 on the season. In that seven-game span, Cano is hitting .452 (14-for-31) with four home runs and 11 RBIs.

"Robbie got going and we got going as a team," Joe Girardi said. "The big three-run homer ends up being the game-winning hit, but it seems like our offense took off a little bit [when he did.]"

Rivera has spoken reverentially about wearing No. 42 and what the night feels like when everyone has it on. So it seemed rather fitting to see him out there in the ninth to pick up his third save.

"It is a special night," Rivera said.

Cano and Rivera savored the evening equally. Rivera inherited Jackie's legacy, while Cano was born with it.

Cano's father, Jose, who pitched briefly in the majors, told Robinson as a kid why he was given his first name. It never really sunk in until he was in his mid-teens -- 15 or 16, he estimates -- when he came to the United States. He did his own research and spoke to people, finding out how much Jackie Robinson had to endure.

"The guy that opened the door for us, it is amazing to get to wear 42 on [this] day," Cano said.

So no, it wasn't 27 up and 27 down, but it terms of symmetry, Jackie Robinson Day at Yankee Stadium was perfect.