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Big night for McCann: Homer, triple and 5 RBIs in Yankees' win over Jays
It likely would not have taken a secret decoder ring to decipher several clues to what would become a 7-3 Yankees victory over the Blue Jays Wednesday night.
But start with a potential source of success who had been hiding in plain sight for most of the season's first 2 months.
Brian McCann, who was hitting a wimpy .220, more than 50 points below his career average, offered a reminder of what the Yankees expect of him. "We really believe he's an offensive force,'' manager Joe Girardi said.
So, finally: McCann cracked a two-run homer in the fourth inning to put the Yankees ahead for good and blew the game open with a bases-loaded triple in the seventh.
"It was a good night,'' McCann said. "About time I chipped in.''
The five runs batted in equaled his career high. He's also the first Yankees catcher to have that many in a game along with a home run and a triple since Elston Howard in 1962.
McCann's feat brought acknowledgment from Brett Gardner, who merely provided four singles in five at-bats and scored two runs. Said Gardner: "We'd all like to have a game like he did.''
And weren't some things obvious? Toronto lefthander Mark Buehrle may have 10 victories, second in the majors only to the Yankees' own Masahiro Tanaka's 11. But Buehrle (10-4, 2.32 ERA) was gone after six innings and lost his ninth consecutive decision to the Pinstripes over the last 10 seasons.
Likewise, the Yankees' back-up C.C. -- rookie Chase Coleman Whitley -- made it through five innings (five hits, two runs, his first walk in five starts) to get the win.
"I fell behind some guys,'' said Whitley (3-0, 2.56). "But to be able to navigate through without some of my best stuff, that's where I'm growing up a little bit. Adversity is where you grow up.''
Girardi brought in Adam Warren for long relief work, considered by some an indication that the team might reposition Warren for the rotation. He was exclusively a starter in the minor leagues but has been a bullpen presence the past two seasons with the Yankees.
Warren pitched two thoroughly tidy innings, allowing no baserunners and striking out a total of three in the sixth and seventh.
Also revealing, again, were offensive first impressions by the Yankees. In 16 previous games in which they led after the first inning, they won 13.
Gardner led off the first with a single, advanced to second on third baseman Brett Lawrie's inability to field Derek Jeter's slow grounder and scored on Alfonso Soriano's two-out single.
So, make that 14 of 17 victories when leading after one. Toronto took a brief 2-1 lead in the fourth on consecutive two-out RBI singles by Dioner Navarro and Colby Rasmus.
But the Yankees struck back quickly with McCann's two-run line drive into the first row in rightfield after Carlos Beltran singled. In the seventh, McCann cleared the bases with his two-out triple to right-center.
One other thing that Yankees followers might have seen coming: Toronto had not won in 14 consecutive games in the Bronx. Make it 15, the longest such streak since a run of 19 home victories against Cleveland from 1960 to 1962.
And, suddenly, the AL East race has tightened considerably, with the Yankees only 2 games behind first-place Toronto.
"This is big,'' Girardi said. "This is the team we're chasing.''