A horde of season-ticket holders ringed the warning track of Yankee Stadium on Saturday morning. They awaited an opportunity to meet their beloved Yankees, general manager Brian Cashman and managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner.

On his way to the field, preparing to press the flesh with the fanbase before a 7-2 victory over Toronto, Steinbrenner appeared upbeat while discussing his first-place club, a team that has exceeded even his own expectations.

“Pleasantly surprised,” Steinbrenner said in brief interview, a relative rarity. “I’m not shocked. I didn’t buy into the doomsday scenario that many people did.”

He had several reasons for cheer, even before his team pushed their record to 11 games above .500. Steinbrenner could point to a few factors for their success: General manager Brian Cashman’s ability to churn through waiver-wire acquisitions. Manager Joe Girardi’s tactical mastery. The contributions from unheralded rookies. Downright good fortune.

And then, of course, there is Robinson Cano, the jewel of this roster. Steinbrenner said he continues to engage in preliminary, “procedural” discussions about a contract extension with Brodie Van Wagenen from CAA, Cano’s new agency. A few hours later, Cano displayed another example of his value to this club.

He snapped free from a brief slump with a pair of two-run homers. Travis Hafner tacked on a two-run shot in the eighth inning. By then, David Phelps had already completed seven innings of one-run baseball. The Yankees continued to hold sway over the Blue Jays, the purported threat to their division crown, pushing their record to 8-1 against them this season.

At the center of it all was Cano. He is the rare player who awes his teammates, men who have reached the pinnacle of their profession. Outfielder Vernon Wells once referred to Cano as a left-handed version of Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera, an calm but dangerous at the plate.