McCann’s walk-off climaxes homestand
In their previous homestand the Yankees faced American League Cy Young Award winners three games in a row against Detroit. They ended up winning two of those matchups.
Sunday at Yankee Stadium marked the first of another series of confrontations with front-line starting pitchers, and the Yankees held their own in getting the best of White Sox lefthander Chris Sale, who entered the game unbeaten against the Bombers.
In truth, Sale was done in by his defense, but the Yankees took advantage of the door that was opened for them. White Sox left fielder Dayan Viciedo dropped a fly ball by Martin Prado on the warning track with one out for a two-base error that created the opening against Sale, who entered that sixth inning working on a two-hitter with a 3-0 lead.
By inning’s end, the Yankees had pulled in front, 4-3, with all four runs unearned against Sale’s record. He did not help matters, however, by hitting rookie Zelous Wheeler with a pitch with the bases loaded that forced home one of the runs.
The big hit for the Yankees was a two-run single by Ichiro Suzuki, ironically the only left-handed batter in the starting lineup as manager Joe Girardi chose to stack right-handed swingers against Sale. An aching right ankle kept Brett Gardner on the bench. Girardi decided to give a blow as well to Jacoby Ellsbury, who came into the game in the seventh inning for defense.
Sale escaped with a no-decision when Avisail Garcia, who had struck out in all three of his previous at-bats, drove a first-pitch, knuckle curve from David Robertson to right field for a game-tying home run.
It ended a stretch of 22 consecutive converted save opportunities for Robertson, who had a homestand of mixed results. He was the winning pitcher Friday night and got his 34th save Saturday but also was the losing pitcher last Tuesday night against the Astros when he gave up a three-home run to Chris Carter in the ninth inning of a non-save situation.
All of Chicago’s runs off Yankees starter Chris Capuano were on home runs. Alexei Ramirez led off the game with a homer. Conor Gillaspie connected for a two-run shot in the sixth, Capuano’s last inning.
More big-name pitchers are to come over the next several days for the Yankees. Monday was originally an open date, but the Yanks must travel to Kansas City to make up a June 9 rainout and face James Shields. After that, it is off to Detroit where the starters for the first two games will be Rick Porcello and David Price.
At least the Yankees will take to the road after a satisfying finish to the homestand. After losing the first two games to the Astros, the Yankees came back to win the next four games. Sunday was looking like a downer after Robertson coughed up the lead, but Brian McCann came off the bench to provide the winning blow in the 7-4, 10-inning victory over the White Sox.
McCann has heard his share of boos at the Stadium this year as he has struggled offensively, but there were thunderous cheers from the crowd of 43,366 when he smoked a 3-2 changeup from righthander Jake Petricka for a walk-off three-run home run.
I am on record of giving McCann some slack. It can be tough for a player to switch leagues, particularly a catcher who not only has to learn new opposing pitchers but also with his own staff behind the plate. Some fans might have figured McCann would hit more homers playing regularly and aiming for the Stadium’s right field porch. But he has 54 RBI, which is tied with Mark Teixeira for second on the club only one behind Ellsbury, the club leader.
Another major contribution came from reliever David Huff, who was the winning pitcher. The lefthander put himself in danger in the top of the 10th when he gave up a two-out single to Carlos Sanchez that put runners on first and second and gave an at-bat to AL Rookie of the Year favorite Jose Abreu.
Pitching coach Larry Rothschild visited the mound to remind Huff that there was one open base so that if he fell behind in the count not to worry about walking Abreu, who looked at two knee-high fastballs for strikes. After taking a pitch out of the strike zone, Abreu kept the bat on his shoulder again only to watch Huff hit the outside corner with another fastball for called strike three. Maybe that pitch alone was deserving of a winning decision.