Cano's 438-foot shot in the ninth served as the milestone shot and extended what has been a torrid September for the veteran second baseman. Cano now has a six-game hitting streak and is just seven RBI short of a second straight 100-RBI campaign.
The 23-year-old prospect enjoyed a productive return to the big-league level, mustering the Rays' only multi-hit effort of the night in the process. Robertson's night snapped the slump he'd wrapped up his prior majors tenure mired in, one that saw him go 0-for-11 before being sent down to Triple-A Durham in late August.
He'd gone 0-for-12 over his prior four games, but he snapped out of the mini-slump Thursday with some authority. The 20-year-old has done nothing but hit at every level he's played, and the majors are proving to be no exception as Albies now sports a .283/.360/.457 slash line in 198 plate appearances since his promotion to Atlanta. He should be the Braves' Opening Day second baseman in 2018, and while he's already exhausted his rookie eligibility, that won't stop him from being one of the more exciting young players in the National League.
Pedroia was kept off the turf in Tampa Bay last weekend, playing exclusively at designated hitter. To complicate matters, he fouled a ball off his nose earlier this week. The Red Sox are managing Pedroia to keep him relevant through the end of the season and the playoffs. As such, the Red Sox may not push him too hard this weekend when they play in Cincinnati, without the luxury of the DH. If Pedroia is rested at all this weekend, Brock Holt will likely fill in at a second base.
Zobrist is just 1-for-19 (.053) over his previous five starts, so he'll get the day off to clear his head as the Cubs kick off a crucial four-game series against the Brewers. Javier Baez is starting at second base and batting eighth in his stead.
Sanchez retreats to the bench following a pair of starts, including a 1-for-3 day at the plate with a double and one RBI during Wednesday's game. In his place, Tyler Saladino draws a start at the hot corner.
Memphis fell in the Triple-A National Championship game earlier in the week, freeing Valera up to return to the major-league team for the final week-plus. Valera is a versatile defender and a switch-hitter who put together a solid .314/.368/.450 line with Memphis this season, but the 25-year-old lacks standout power or speed, profiling best as a utility player at the highest level.
Kipnis receives a breather following three straight starts, which marked the first time he's been on the field since Aug. 22, due to a hamstring strain. He started to shake the rust off at the plate during Wednesday's victory, going 2-for-4 with a double and one RBI, earning his first hit since coming off the DL.
Despite the disappointing team outcome, Cano's third multi-hit effort in the last five games was a bright spot. The 34-year-old second baseman has a five-game hitting streak and is tearing the cover off the ball overall in September, generating a .366/.423/.521 line and .402 wOBA over 78 plate appearances while also driving in 14 runs.
Kipnis picked up his first hits since returning from a hamstring injury Sept. 17. In his first two games back, the veteran had gone 0-for-5 with three strikeouts, so Wednesday's effort was an encouraging sign for owners. Manager Terry Francona plans to deploy Kipnis judiciously for now, so using the 30-year-old in weekly leagues carries some risk.