Robinson Cano had his fuzzy beard rubbed by Derek Jeter, got a huge grin from Mark Teixeira after a close play at first base and a whole bunch of hellos from his former teammates.
The fans, though, were less welcoming. They gave Cano a true Bronx cheer in his return to Yankee Stadium.
Cano didn’t mind, even claimed he didn’t hear the most harsh comments Tuesday night. He was just happy to have helped the Seattle Mariners beat New York 6-3 for their fourth win in five games.
“It was weird at first, three four innings,” Cano said after driving in a run and scoring another. “But I was happy that I could see all of them in the field and say hi to some of them.”
Amid lusty boos from a modest crowd on a rainy, 46-degree night, Cano began his first game in New York since joining Seattle this winter for $240 million with a wink — at Yankees starter CC Sabathia (3-3).
Cano got a mock cheer when he struck out to end the inning, then was met with chants of “You sold out!” from the Bleacher Creatures when he took his spot at second base.
When Cano grounded out to first base in the fourth, Teixeira flashed him a smile. The five-time All-Star was even booed when he cleanly handled a grounder.
“That’s something I can’t control,” said Cano, claiming he never heard the chant. “I’m not surprised. Just got to go out there and play my game.”
Chris Young (1-0) gave up a second-inning homer to Teixeira and not much else in 52/3 innings to earn his first win since 2012. Mike Zunino had a career-high four hits, one courtesy of a replay review that sparked a four-run fifth inning.
Fernando Rodney yielded an RBI single to Brett Gardner in the ninth before striking out Jeter and Carlos Beltran with two runners on base.
Cano really riled up the crowd in the fifth after driving in Seattle’s first run with a groundball to Teixeira with the bases loaded.
“”Considering the place was half full they brought out their best boos,” Teixeira said.
Seattle’s big inning started with Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon winning a challenge on a bang-bang play at first.
Zunino, the catcher whose errant throw to second in the third inning on Gardner’s stolen base gave New York a 2-0 lead, was ruled to have beaten out a grounder to second base.
“I didn’t try to do too much, that’s the thing,” said Zunino, who had flu-like symptoms on the flight to New York. “Sometimes when you’re not feeling 100 percent, you don’t try and do too much and sometimes that’s the key to this game.”
Sabathia gave up a single to Willie Bloomquist and a bunt hit to Abraham Almonte to load the bases. Yankees second baseman Brian Roberts was playing near the bag and did not reach first to cover when Teixeira fielded the bunt.
Cano hit a sharp grounder to first for the run, Corey Hart followed with a two-run double and Justin Smoak made it 4-2 with a single.
“I thought he had really good stuff tonight and it’s hard to believe he gave up those four runs like that,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
In the seventh, Cano reached on an infield single to second base and stole second. He was greeted there by Jeter, who gave his former double-play partner a friendly tap on the chest.
Earlier, Jeter had playfully run his fingers through Cano’s fuzzy beard. Facial hair was no-no during Cano’s nine years with New York.
“I’ve gotten used to not seeing him here, but then seeing him in another uniform because we don’t play him in the spring is kind of an odd picture,” Jeter said.
Pinch-hitter Dustin Ackley and Zunino had RBI singles in the seventh, more than enough support to give Young his first victory since Sept. 2, 2012, for the New York Mets. He missed last season after having shoulder surgery and was decisionless in four appearances this year. The 6-foot-10 Princetonian held New York to three hits and three walks.
Sabathia was chased after putting two on in the sixth, his shortest outing since July 26. He gave up nine hits and four runs in five-plus innings. He struck out six.
NOTES: Mariners first base coach Andy Van Slyke was ejected by third base umpire Adam Hamari in the bottom of the eighth. It came shortly after Cano was called out on a check-swing appeal. ... Yankees RHP Ivan Nova had reconstructive elbow surgery Tuesday. Dr. James Andrews performed the operation in Pensacola, Fla. ... Suspended Yankees RHP Michael Pineda cut short a simulated game in Tampa after experiencing tightness in an upper back muscle. An MRI showed he has a Grade 1 lat strain. His first scheduled start (Monday) after a 10-game ban for having pine tar on his neck is in jeopardy, according to Girardi. ... Yankees CF Jacoby Ellsbury was out of starting lineup because of a sore left hand. ... Mariners RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (torn tendon in middle finger) rejoined the team and had a bullpen session at Yankee Stadium. He’s scheduled to pitch again Friday but McClendon would not commit to saying it will be in the majors.