NEW YORK — Robinson Cano heard the jeers, all right. Circling the bases, not once but twice, in his old ballpark made it a lot easier to dismiss them.
Cano snapped a season-long slump with a pair of two-run homers against his former team, Hisashi Iwakuma pitched neatly into the sixth and the Seattle Mariners held on to beat the New York Yankees 4-3 Saturday.
“I just go to the plate and make some damage,” Cano said about handling the Bronx cheers.
Batting .249 with just six homers and 30 RBIs coming in, Cano has taken the brunt of the blame for the Mariners’ subpar first half. But he came out swinging against the team he spurned for a huge contract with Seattle before the 2014 season.
The second baseman responded to hearty first-inning boos with a blast off Michael Pineda (9-6) over the center field wall with Kyle Seager aboard, helping the Mariners end a seven-game skid against New York. Seager connected twice in Seattle’s loss Friday night.
Cano connected again off Pineda in the sixth, driving a ball into the second deck in right field for his 14th multihomer game — his first 13 came with New York. Cano singled between his long balls and grounded out with a shot for his first three-homer game.
“I don’t know how comfortable he is when you have 40,000 people booing you,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. “Robby’s Robby. Robby’s going to hit.”
With the win, the Mariners improved to 22-22 on the road after losing 11 of 17 to start the season. Seattle denied the Yankees a chance to move 10 games over .500 for the first time since Cano was closing out his career in pinstripes, on Sept. 13, 2013.
Carson Smith gave up an RBI grounder to Garrett Jones in the ninth before getting Didi Gregorius to ground out to Cano with the tying run on second base for his seventh save in a game McClendon called a must win for the 42-49 Mariners.
“We did everything we possibly could to get it,” McClendon said.
Brian McCann hit a tying two-out, two-run shot off Iwakuma (2-1) in the fourth, just one of two flyballs off the Japanese right-hander in 5 2-3 innings. McCann had the other, too, an out to left field.
Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner started the sixth with singles but Iwakuma struck out Alex Rodriguez for the third time and got Mark Teixeira on a grounder.
Joe Beimel, who yielded A-Rod’s go-ahead homer Friday, relieved and retired McCann on a popup.
“It’s just one of those days we didn’t get the big hit,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Iwakuma was tough. He moves the ball around. He really locates well.”
Iwakuma allowed five hits and two runs without a walk and five strikeouts in his third start since coming off the disabled list.
“I think all of my pitches are sharper. I’m very happy where I’m at,” Iwakuma said through a translator. “I felt pretty strong to the end. It was just getting into that jam … I feel very happy for the pitcher that came in after myself.”
Prior to the game, McClendon said he expected Iwakuma to win 10 games in the second half now that he’s fully healthy. For emphasis, McClendon threw out the number, took a long pause, then added “seriously.”
“I’m going to do my best,” Iwakuma said.
Pineda took a shutout into the seventh against his former team in his first start against Seattle on June 2, but he struggled to throw strikes Saturday. The righty walked two for the first time since June 17 and needed 105 pitches to get through six innings. He gave up six hits and four runs.
All-Star right-hander Felix Hernandez was traveling like a king in the visitors’ clubhouse before and after the game, gliding along on a motorized intelligent personal mobility device. It looks like a skateboard married a Segway, with a platform about 6 inches off the ground to stand on and two big wheels but no handlebars. “The fall is about that far,” McClendon said when asked if it scares him to see his star zipping around.
Mariners: LHP Charlie Furbush (biceps tendinitis) was feeling discomfort in his throwing arm so the team slowed the steady reliever’s progress in his throwing program.
Yankees: The Yankees sent RHP Bryan Mitchell to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after Friday night’s win and called up Branden Pinder on Saturday. Girardi said he wanted to stretch out Mitchell in case New York needs him to make a spot start. … OF Carlos Beltran is expected to be activated from the DL Sunday.
Mariners: It’s a Felix Day in New York as Hernandez gets the start. He’s 5-1 with a 1.37 ERA at the new Yankee Stadium. Teixeira has made King Felix almost look ordinary. He’s 20 for 66 (.303) with six homers and 13 RBIs overall against the 2010 A.L. Cy Young Award winner.
Yankees: LHP CC Sabathia faces the Mariners for a second time this year. He allowed nine hits and two run in 5 2-3 innings at Seattle on June 2.
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