Well, Brian McCann needed a game like that. The seven-time All-Star has gotten off to a dismal start with the Yankees, batting just .220/.278/.345 through his first 63 games in pinstripes. Tonight though, he bounced back in a big way, driving in five of the Yankees' seven runs in a 7-3 victory over the Blue Jays, their remarkable 15th in a row against Toronto at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees had a tough task at the start of the game with veteran Mark Buehrle on the mound, off to one of the best starts in his 14-year career. However, the Yankees got on the board right away in the first when Brett Gardner led off with a single to right and Derek Jeter reached on an error by third baseman Brett Lawrie. Two batters and two outs later, it looked like they might let Buehrle off the hook, but Alfonso Soriano laced a single to right, scoring Gardner and giving the Yankees an early 1-0 lead.
The game stayed quiet until the fourth, when Toronto struck back against rookie starter Chase Whitley. Jose Bautista led off with a single to left and one out later, Lawrie was drilled on the left hand (he would later leave the game). Whitley fanned Juan Francisco, but Dioner Navarro and Colby Rasmus followed with back-to-back RBI singles, plating two runs and giving Toronto the 2-1 advantage. That lead did not last; Carlos Beltran began the bottom half of the fourth with a single, and McCann then smoked a Buehrle pitch to the short porch. It was the power stroke the front office envisioned from McCann when they signed him, and it gave the Yankees the lead right back at 3-2. Whitley labored through five innings and 95 pitches, but he stayed effective by only allowing two runs on five hits and a walk.
Seeking some insurance runs in the seventh inning off new pitcher Chad Jenkins, the Yankees loaded the bases on three hard singles. Although they blew an out when Jeter popped up a bunt with none out and Gardner on first (sigh), the Yankees managed to push across a run anyway. Ichiro Suzuki pinch-hit for Soriano with the righty on the mound, and Toronto manager John Gibbons countered by bringing in Brett Cecil. The southpaw couldn't find the strike zone though, and he walked Ichiro to bring home the Yankees' fourth run. While Beltran squandered a chance to bring home a run with an out, McCann ensured that the threat of a big inning did not go to waste. He tattooed Cecil's pitch to right center field, where Rasmus tried to make a great diving catch but missed. That cleared the bases and put McCann on third with a three-run triple and a five-RBI game. It wasn't just a good game for McCann either, as every starter except Yangervis Solarte and Brian Roberts had a hit, and Gardner registered a four-hit game with two runs scored.
Adam Warren had pitched a perfect two innings of relief with three strikeouts prior to the rally, preserving the one-run lead, but since the Yankees now led by five, Joe Girardi tried to get an inning out of Jose Ramirez in the eighth. Back-to-back doubles from Melky Cabrera and Bautista with none out messed up those plans, and with the score now 7-3, Girardi elected to simply go for the kill with Dellin Betances and David Robertson. The Yankees' two-headed bullpen strikeout monster got the job done, striking out three over the last two innings and allowing just a walk.
With the win, the Yankees pulled within two and a half games of the Blue Jays for first place in the AL East, and they'll go for the series sweep tomorrow night. David Phelps will take on Drew Hutchison at 7:05 PM EST.