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3 to Watch: The 'Cano returns to Kansas City (boooo!)' edition

By Danny Knobler | Baseball Insider

When Kansas City fans booed Robinson Cano last July, I got it.

He didn't pick their guy (Billy Butler) for the home run derby. He was everything New York had and they didn't. He took the field with an All-Star team every day. They hadn't seen a Royal get a hit in an All-Star Game in 23 years.

As I wrote that week, do you blame baseball fans there for feeling forgotten?

That shouldn't be true this weekend when Cano returns to Kauffman Stadium for the first time since last July's All-Star boo-fest. His Yankees come to town with a better record than the hometown Royals, but in a strange twist we've all been asking how they're doing it and whether it's realistic to think that they can keep it up.

In the strange world of baseball 2013, it's easier to find people who believe in the Royals (second place in the American League Central ) than it is to find people who believe in the Yankees (now in first place in the AL East). It's easier to make a case for Butler's Royals teammates than it is for Cano's Yankees teammates in All-Star voting.

As for Cano, he's still playing like an All-Star, with nine home runs and an OPS that's again over .900. But when he started the All-Star Game last July, Yankee teammates Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson were in the American League lineup with him; neither has played a single game this year (although Granderson should return soon).

One Yankee who didn't make the All-Star team last year was Mariano Rivera, who two months earlier had torn up his knee while shagging fly balls at Kauffman Stadium. Rivera, now 13 for 13 in saves with a 1.88 ERA, is probably the Yankee most deserving of an All-Star spot in 2013.

With Rivera doing his thing, the Yankees are 17-0 in games they lead after eight innings (and 15-0 in games they lead after six). The Royals, by contrast, have already lost twice when they've led after eight, and three times when they've led after six.

Rivera will no doubt get some cheers in his final regular-season appearance(s) in Kansas City, as he should.

Cano may well get booed again, but the Kansas City fans should remember that this isn't last July. Not for the Yankees, and not for the Royals, either.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. I asked this question on Twitter last Sunday, before we knew that Roy Halladay would have shoulder surgery on May 15: Now that Halladay and Tim Hudson have the same number of career wins (201), who will end up with more? Hudson is two years older, but it looks now as if he'll keep going, perhaps for a couple more years. He gets his first chance at his 202nd win in Braves at Giants, Friday night (10:15 ET) at AT&T Park. Hudson hasn't lost to the Giants in nine starts since April 2006.

2. For all the accusations against Clay Buchholz after his May 1 start in Toronto, it was well-noted that none of them came (at least not directly) from any Blue Jays players or coaches. That really wasn't all that surprising. Most teams don't like to accuse other pitchers of cheating, because they don't want anyone checking on what their own pitchers are doing. But you can bet that at least the Blue Jays' television cameras will zero in on Buchholz when he starts in Blue Jays at Red Sox, Saturday afternoon (1:35 ET) at Fenway Park. Of much greater concern to the Blue Jays: Of the 108 starting pitchers in the major leagues with enough innings to qualify, only Ryan Vogelsong (7.78) has a higher ERA than Mark Buehrle (7.02). Buehrle makes his eighth Blue Jays start on Saturday.

3. The only active pitcher with more career wins than Hudson and Halladay is 40-year-old Andy Pettitte, who has been stuck on 248 for his last three starts. Pettitte's trademark cutter has gone missing the last two starts, and there'll surely be concern if it isn't there again in Yankees at Royals, Saturday night (7:10 ET) at Kauffman Stadium. Royals fans will be just as concerned if manager Ned Yost does what he did last Sunday, removing James Shields after eight innings, with a one-run lead and just 105 pitches on his count.

 
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