Catcher's game-winning RBI double extends hit streak to 10 games
By Shane Jackson
CLEVELAND -- As Yankees catcher Brian McCann walked up to the plate, his mind raced down the scouting report on Indians reliever Tommy Hunter. In McCann's mind, it was just like any other at-bat. But in reality, it was much more.
In the 11th inning of the Yankees' 7-6 win over the Tribe on Saturday, McCann stepped into the batter's box on the left side of the plate, staring at Hunter but visualizing his repertoire in his head. He wasn't thinking that his manager had the utmost confidence in him to win his team the game.
"I was more or less sitting on a pitch and got it," McCann said. "He's got a good cutter, a good heater and a good curveball. I picked the side of the plate and got it where I was looking."
Moments before McCann began to read Hunter, New York's No. 3 hitter Carlos Beltran slashed a two-out single to right. Yankees manager Joe Girardi then decided to pull Beltran -- who had recorded three hits -- and place Ronald Torreyes as a pinch-runner at first base -- a sign that the manager believed in his slugging catcher.
McCann wasted no time rewarding Girardi's managerial decision. He ripped a 94 mph first-pitch fastball from Hunter off the wall in right field. The ball skipped off the wall past right fielder Abraham Almonte, allowing Torreyes to score from first on the double.
"As soon as the ball kicked off and bounced past him, I knew he was going to be in easy," McCann said.
Closer Aroldis Chapman came back out for the 11th to seal the one-run victory. The left-hander earned his third win of the season after going 2 1/3 innings and throwing a season-high 32 pitches.
But it was McCann's efforts that allowed Chapman to return to the mound in the final frame.
"He was not going out if it was tied," Girardi said. "He did an outstanding job too. All those relievers did a really good job today."
Girardi's confidence in his cleanup hitter should come as no surprise, especially the way he has hit lately. McCann ended the night with three hits and extended his hitting streak to a season-long 10 games. It is the longest hitting streak by a Yankees batter this season.
During the streak, McCann is hitting .375 (15-for-40) with nine RBIs.
"He had a very nice day again today," Girardi said. "He's swinging the bat very well, and we need it to continue."
McCann hopes to keep hitting well, starting Sunday afternoon in the final game before the All-Star break, when his team has a chance to take a series from one of the best teams in baseball.
"It was a big win, and tomorrow is another big game," McCann said.
Shane Jackson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.