NEW YORK -- Robinson Cano has taken over the Yankees' offense. He is on one of those magical runs, when an athlete's singular talent is at a higher level against the world's best competition.
Think Kevin Durant in the zone or Dan Marino with two minutes left -- that is what Cano is at the plate these days.
Cano is dominating. The numbers are staggering and the production is amazing as he tries to lead the Yankees to the AL East title. In Monday's absolute mismatch, 10-2 laugher over what was essentially a Triple-A Red Sox team, Cano had a homer, two doubles and three RBIs. It was his seventh consecutive multihit game.
His past 29 at-bats have produced stats that belong in the PONY League, not the major leagues. Cano has 18 hits in those 29 at-bats. That's a .621 average.
"It would be tough to find somebody else in the game who can literally just take over a game the way he can," Nick Swisher said.
There are other guys -- Miguel Cabrera, anyone? -- but Swisher's heart is in the right place. When Cano is going right, he is unstoppable.
He is carrying the Yankees, who moved a game ahead of the Orioles with two remaining. With a win on Tuesday and another Orioles loss, the Yankees are the AL East champs. Since Texas lost Monday night, the Yankees, by virtue of the tiebreak, now take over the No. 1 seed.
When Cano is fully engaged, it is a sight to be seen. Many times, Cano doesn't look fully into it, which is partly due to his smooth style and partly because he often fails to hustle.
He has a good personality and fits in well in the clubhouse, having learned how to be a major leaguer from his father, Jose Cano, and how to be a Yankee from his double-play partner, Derek Jeter.
Cano can be maddening with his indifference, but then he connects with his slick swing and drives a ball into the night, like he did off Clay Buchholz to begin the nine-run second on Monday. He can mesmerize.
"When he is on, he is on," winning pitcher CC Sabathia said.
On Monday, the fight seemed over before the bell. Bobby Valentine, in presumably his last days as Red Sox manager, had a lineup that did not even include the injured Dustin Pedroia or the healthy Jacoby Ellsbury. It is not as if that would have mattered; Buchholz was that bad.
The Yankees hit four homers in the second. How rare is that? Well, in their storied history, they had done in just two other times. Joining Cano were Curtis Granderson, Russell Martin and Mark Teixeira, but none was more majestic than Cano's laser.
Cano would add a two-run double, and the Yankees scored their most runs in one inning -- nine -- since the end of July 2011.
"It was a great feeling," Cano said.
The only Yankee who didn't score in the inning was Alex Rodriguez, but A-Rod did have an RBI, his first in 50 at-bats. It was a sacrifice fly. He is still homerless in his past 61 at-bats.
A-Rod's regression makes Cano even more important. At the moment, the Yankees are really devoid of a multidimensional masher to pair with Cano. Rodriguez doesn't hit for enough power anymore, while Teixeira and Granderson don't hit for a high enough average.
Cano must be the man in October. The second baseman picked up his only ring in 2009, but he didn't do much offensively to earn it. He had no homers and six RBIs in 15 games, as the Yankees leaned heavily on A-Rod.
Now this is his offense, and it is up to Cano, 29, to lead them. There is no telling why everything is clicking for Cano at the right time.
"It is hard to say," Joe Girardi said. "I know, as a manager, it is fun to watch."
Fifteen games ago, Cano's average dipped below .300. Since then, he has hit .390.
"He dropped under .300," Swisher said. "He jumped that thing up real quick. It just shows how talented of a hitter he is."
He is taking over for the Yankees, trying to lead them all the way through October. It is pure talent on full display.