Robinson Cano sets postseason record with 0-for-26 skid

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Robinson Cano has a way of making baseball look effortless. Which is all well and good when he’s batting his usual .310 with very good power. When he slumps, his usual manner makes him look lackadaisical and disinterested, even though he might be anything but.

Cano went hitless in a fifth straight game Sunday in the loss to the Tigers, and he’s now in an 0-for-26 skid that ranks as the longest hitless streak ever to be compiled in a single postseason, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The second baseman also made a key defensive miscue in the seventh inning today, mishandling the relay from short on what should have been an inning-ending double-play ball. Quintin Berry scored the Tigers’ first run of the game on the play.

Overall, Cano is 2-for-32 for the postseason, though he does have four RBI.Raul Ibanez and Ichiro Suzuki, with five apiece, are the Yankees leaders.

What makes Cano’s struggles all the more incredible is that he finished the season on a remarkable 25-for-39 tear. He was so hot that even if one sticks the 2-for-32 onto the end of that, he still has a .380 average in his last 71 at-bats.

Given that Cano is the Yankees’ best player, there’s not going to be any benching him. He’ll just have to hit his way out of the slump, something that figures to be pretty difficult with the Tigers throwing Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer the next two games. Cano has hit .226 with no homers in 31 at-bats against Verlander. He’s 2-for-11 with a homer against Scherzer.

Evan Longoria: “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”

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The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.