Ells, McCann earn their money on Saturday

May, 24, 2014
May 24
7:39
PM ET
CHICAGO -- It is funny how three swings can turn a baseball story upside down.

With two outs in the ninth, the Yankees were again scoreless against a mediocre pitcher and on the verge of falling back to .500 after 48 games. You could feel the frustrations starting to rise after a half-billion dollars in winter renovations.

Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann -- who collected $238 million worth of contracts -- were in the middle of the oncoming scorn because they have not hit in May.

[+] EnlargeBrian McCann
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesBrian McCann's run scoring single tied the game in the 9th.
Ellsbury entered the ninth inning just 5 for his last 50. McCann owned a .190 average in 79 at-bats over the past month.

But a baseball story can change with just three swings of the bat, and that is exactly what happened Saturday.

It started with a pitching change. John Danks left. Danks, mediocre all year, was dominant over eight inning, allowing just three hits and no runs. Ronald Belisario entered.

"I guess we needed to switch pitchers," Ellsbury would say later after Yankees 4, White Sox 3, in 10 innings.

With one out in the ninth, Ellsbury singled. He would take second and score on the equally struggling Alfonso Soriano's double. Never Nervous Yangervis Solarte would single home Soriano to set up McCann's moment.

McCann clearly cares about what he does on the field. There is a fire that he plays with, and he is detailed in his preparation. Still, doing all your homework and trying hard will not make a player loved in the Bronx. McCann has disappointed at the plate so far, and he knows it.

McCann pinch hit for John Ryan Murphy. The first pitch he saw, he didn't drill. He hit a blooper that a triangle of White Sox defenders had a chance to catch. From left and center, Leury Garcia and Adam Eaton, sprinted in. From short, Alexei Ramirez raced back. McCann watched as he ran to first.

"I was cheering pretty hard," McCann said.

The ball dropped softly in the outfield grass. The scoreboard changed to three apiece, and McCann was a hero.

"I was so glad that fell," McCann said.

Ellsbury -- feeling good after hitting the wall well in the ninth -- returned to the plate with two outs in the 10th and Zach Putnam on the mound.

Ellsbury is a stoic player. If the Yankees win or lose, he doesn't seem much different afterward.

On a 1-0 count, he hit a long fly ball to right off Putman.

"I knew I hit it well," Ellsbury said. "I thought I might've hit it a little too high."

He hit it 352 feet, just enough to sneak it over the right-field wall.

"It is a great feeling," Ellsbury said.

David Robertson rebounded from his first blown save to pick up his 10th one of the year. Dellin Betances (3-0) won the game, striking out two of the three in the ninth. Vidal Nuno, in the words of McCann, "won us" the game by not wilting after allowing three in the first. Nuno ended up going seven impressive innings.

But the headlines go to the guys with the expectations. Everyone in that clubhouse knows that.

The fact that Derek Jeter, 0-for-5 Saturday, is batting second with 49 total bases and 42 hits is an issue that will gain steam if things don't change. Alfonso Soriano fading to .205 with 30 strikeouts in his last 78 at-bats is not something that will be a point of emphasis if things don't get better.

Jeter and, to a lesser extent, Soriano, though, have goodwill with Yankees fans built up. McCann and Ellsbury don't.

"It is a long season," Joe Girardi said. "You can't judge a season on 45 games, 50 games. You just can't. I understand. Fans want us to win. I don't make too much of it. Brian McCann has hit the ball hard. Jacoby Ellsbury, the first month, people thought he would be the MVP of the league. That's how good he was. There are good months. There are bad months. There are good days. There are bad days."

After three swings, Saturday ended up being a good day.
Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Masahiro Tanaka
WINS ERA SO IP
12 2.51 135 129
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Ellsbury .289
HRM. Teixeira 17
RBIM. Teixeira 48
RB. Gardner 61
OPSB. Gardner .787
ERAM. Tanaka 2.51
SOM. Tanaka 135