NEW YORK -- The fireworks had gone off just moments before, lighting up the pitch black sky over Yankee Stadium in the 12th inning of a divisional battle with the Rays. Brian McCann had seen them during Mark Teixeira's at-bat. But they'd be back after his, too.
The emotions ran high for McCann, who followed Teixeira's plate appearance with a three-run, walk-off blast to right field in the 12th inning, lifting the Yankees to a 7-5 victory and earning himself a Gatorade bath at home plate.
When McCann arrived at the plate, the Yankees faced a one-run deficit and had never led. With one swing of the bat on a 93-mph four-seam fastball, it became a two-run victory.
"[Steve Geltz] hung a split the first time it was up in the zone. I had a favorable count, and he's going to make a decision whether to throw another split or try to get ahead," McCann said. "I was sitting middle of the plate and got what I was looking for."
The win was a crucial one for the Yankees, who returned home Friday night after a road trip that saw them go 3-4. In the competitive American League East, the first-place Yanks were aware that just two games separated them and the Rays, who are tied for third, and a loss in extras would have been a tough pill to swallow for manager Joe Girardi.
"That would have been an extremely tough game to lose, and I give our guys a ton of credit," Girardi said. "Just the physical grind that we have, getting in and landing at 6:30 on -- I don't know what day it was, was it Thursday? Thursday morning? -- and then to come out and be able to do that.
"I think it puts a premium on division games is what it does. That's a good way to start a homestand."
The walk-off hit was the Yankees' first of the season, McCann's seventh of his career and it was his second walk-off home run as a Yankee.
Over his past 33 games, the catcher is batting .304 with nine homers and 31 RBIs.
"It's one of the best feelings you could possibly have," McCann said after the game. "Big spot like that against a team in our division, it's a great feeling."
As the fireworks continued outside, inside the Yankees' clubhouse, outfielder Brett Gardner said there was no doubt in anyone's mind that McCann would be able to pull through.
"He's a guy I feel like he's been swinging the bat really, really well. He hit a couple of balls well today, but didn't have anything to show for it. He's somebody you want up in that situation," Gardner said. "If you lose that game, it's tough to go to sleep tonight, and you've got to wake up early tomorrow and get after it again, so it'll be a little easier to fall asleep tonight, for sure."
Then Gardner paused for a second.
"Everybody except Mac."
Grace Raynor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.