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McCann delivers W that could propel Yanks

8/24/2014

NEW YORK -- They come here for the money, but they also come here for days like this.

They come here for months like September, if the New York Yankees can somehow make September turn out the way they hope it will.

And then for months like October.

"It's what you play for," Brian McCann said late Sunday afternoon, still riding a high after his 10th-inning home run gave the Yankees a 7-4 win over the Chicago White Sox. "It's what people want to come here for. It's special. It's an amazing moment I'll never forget."

McCann agreed that it was his best moment as a Yankee. Manager Joe Girardi didn't dispute the idea that Sunday's win was the best one this Yankees team has had.

But they know, and everyone knows, that making this season a success will require bigger moments and better wins in the next five weeks. The Yankees will need a lot more wins, against a lot better teams than the bumbling White Sox squad they just swept.

For all the excitement generated by Sunday's win, it has to be said that the Yankees narrowly avoided going 3-3 on a six-game homestand against the White Sox and the Houston Astros, two of baseball's worst teams. It has to be said that the Yankees play 22 of their remaining 34 games against teams with winning records -- and six of the other 12 against a Tampa Bay team that is 20-13 since the All-Star break.

One more thing: It has to be said that those bumbling White Sox still have six games remaining against both the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals, two teams the Yankees might need to catch in their frantic run for a spot in the playoffs.

We know all that, but we also know that teams can ride waves of momentum that can make a tough-looking schedule irrelevant.

"A lot of times, the team that wins the World Series isn't the best team all year, but the team that gets hot," outfielder Brett Gardner said. "We're good enough. We just have to play the way we're capable of playing."

They need to get on more of a roll than they've been on yet this season, the kind of roll that feels more possible with wins like Sunday's. Yes, this was a game the White Sox handed them. But it was also a game the Yankees took, with an ending they liked so much that they dumped two Gatorade buckets on McCann's head in celebration.

The Yankees have had a trying first five months of the season, and McCann has had a trying first five months as a Yankee. He hasn't hit the way he expects to (with a .235 batting average and a .668 OPS that would be the worst of his career), and he had to deal with his former hitting coach saying he would never be comfortable in New York.

McCann disagreed with Terry Pendleton's comments when they were made, and he disagrees just as much now. We may never know how long it took him to become comfortable, or even how comfortable he feels now, but he sure looked comfortable rounding the bases in the 10th inning Sunday.

Brian McCann

#34 C
New York Yankees

2014 STATS

  • GM109
  • HR15

  • RBI54

  • R43

  • OBP.288

  • AVG.235

"I like everything about it," he said later. "The passion that runs through this clubhouse, this stadium, is top of the line."

He got a chance Sunday because the Yankees scored four unearned runs off tough lefty Chris Sale, and also because David Robertson gave up an Avisail Garcia home run for his first blown save in almost three months. He got a chance because Carlos Beltran had a two-out double, and because White Sox manager Robin Ventura chose to intentionally walk Chase Headley.

He got a chance because Jake Petricka, a 26-year-old right-hander with a 95 mph fastball, decided to throw a 3-2 changeup that McCann could lift into the seats, just inside the right-field foul pole.

McCann got a chance to feel what a Yankees celebration is like, a small taste of what bigger celebrations could be like. He gave the Yankees a better feeling heading into a week when they will go to Kansas City for one game and Detroit for three, playing those two teams they might need to pass in the standings.

"We're playing good baseball," Beltran said. "Things are going our way."

Things went their way the past four days against the Astros and White Sox, culminating in a win the Yankees could call their best yet.

They know the opposition gets better from here on in. But wins like this make the Yankees believe they can get better, too.