Hunch on McCann pays off for Girardi

Yankees manager Joe Girardi had a hunch, and it paid off in the first inning Friday night. The skipper planned to give Brian McCann, the Yankees’ left-handed batting catcher, a game off against Rays lefthander David Price, until he noticed something on the statistical information he was studying.

Although it was a small sample size, Girardi saw that McCann had a .600 career batting average against Price. It was based on 3-for-5 with a home run. While Girardi gave backup catcher John Ryan Murphy a start to get McCann from out behind the plate the night before a day game, the manager decided to use McCann as the designated hitter instead.

McCann had been slumping lately as were many of the Yankees. He had only one hit in his previous 15 at-bats going into the opener of the three-game set against Tampa Bay. Girardi’s crystal ball was clear this time as McCann turned around a 94-mph fastball on a 3-1 count from Price for his fourth home run and a 2-1 Yankees lead in the second inning.

It was decidedly a Yankee Stadium home run as it landed just over the auxiliary scoreboard, a target that Yankees fans hope will become familiar to McCann, whose power in the National League was muted somewhat by the less friendly dimensions at Atlanta’s Turner Field, his former home turf.

Price has been bitten by the gopher ball this year. McCann’s home run was the eighth allowed by Price this year in 43 innings.

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