Cano, whose big league father named him for Robinson, hit a three-run homer. Mariano Rivera, the last major leaguer still wearing the late Hall of Famer's No. 42 on a daily basis, closed for a save.
The final score of the Yankees' win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night seemed equally appropriate: 4-2.
A fitting tribute, indeed, to the man who broke baseball's color barrier.
"That's what we try to do, not only today but every day," Rivera said. "It's special."
The Yankees also honored victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, starting with a pregame moment of silence.
Major League Baseball held Jackie Robinson Day on Monday, the anniversary of the date he debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Arizona and New York were off Monday, so all players, managers, coaches and umpires at Yankee Stadium wore his number on this evening.
"It's amazing to get the chance to wear 42," Cano said.
The Yankees remembered Boston, home of their longtime rivals, by playing the Fenway Park favorite "Sweet Caroline" after the third inning. Several other teams around the majors followed suit.
Yankees fans sang along with the Neil Diamond hit as it came over the public-address system, and some people in the crowd wore Red Sox hats and jerseys.
"Thank you NY Yankees for playing 'Sweet Caroline' for the people of Boston," Diamond wrote on his Twitter page. "You scored a home run in my heart. With respect, Neil #OneBoston."
A ribbon was shown on the scoreboard displaying the insignia of the Red Sox and Yankees and the words: "New York stands with Boston ... Pray for Boston."
A message that read "United We Stand" showing the Red Sox and Yankees logos was posted on an electronic board atop the ballpark.
Earlier in the day, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said it was time to "put the baseball teams aside" and recognize "we're all behind the people in Boston." Yankees infielder Kevin Youkilis, a longtime Red Sox star whose wife has run the Boston Marathon, said his family was "sick to our stomachs" watching news coverage of the bombings.
The Diamondbacks made their first trip to the Bronx since 2007, two years before the new Yankee Stadium opened. Arizona lost all three games at the old Yankee Stadium in the 2001 World Series, but wound up winning the championship at home in Game 7.
Cano's shot in the fourth helped the Yankees start the unusual portion of their interleague schedule -- they'll face an NL opponent every month this season.
Ivan Nova (1-1) labored through five innings in his first game since April 5. Rivera pitched a perfect ninth for his third save.
"It's kind of funny seeing 42 face three 42s," Girardi said.
Brandon McCarthy (0-2) escaped bases-loaded jams in the first two innings before Cano hit his fourth homer for a 3-2 lead. McCarthy threw 102 pitches in the short outing.
"Just completely out of sync. I was not able to do a whole lot," he said. "I don't know what it was. I couldn't get right."
Eduardo Nunez added a sacrifice fly in the seventh.
Cano's father, Jose Cano, pitched six games for Houston in 1989. ... Brittney Griner, picked No. 1 overall by the Phoenix Mercury in this week's WNBA draft, visited with manager Kirk Gibson and the Diamondbacks around the cage during batting practice. ... Injured Yankees SS Derek Jeter had a second straight day of on-field work at the spring training complex in Tampa, Fla., after two off days. Girardi said Jeter isn't likely to rejoin the team by May 1, once a projected return date. ... Yankees RHP Chien-Ming Wang will make his first start of the season for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Friday night against Syracuse. ... There was a pregame moment of silence for former New York Giants football star Pat Summerall.