Standing on the top step of the Yankee dugout, hitting coach Kevin Long pumped his fist as he watched Brian McCann launch a go-ahead two-run home run in the fourth inning.
McCann’s biggest night in his brief time with the Yankees extended their home winning streak over the Blue Jays to 15 games with a 7-3 victory Wednesday night.
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“They’re real subtle adjustments that players make,” manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s nothing that big that he’s done but he’s a worker. He expects a lot from himself and he’ll continue to work at it.”
McCann ended a stretch of 74 at-bats without homering since May 23 when he hit a three-run shot in the first inning against the White Sox in Chicago. At the time of his seventh home run, McCann was hitting .230, but coming into his second plate appearance against Mark Buehrle Wednesday his average was down to .220.
“Tonight was a good night,” McCann said. “It was about time I chipped in and tonight was a good night to do that.”
“I think frustration sets in sometimes even though he’s done a great job behind home plate,” Girardi said. “He’s never taken it behind home plate. Guys get frustrated, especially when you’re used to hitting.
It was a nice change of topics for McCann.
“Just the fact that I wasn’t really contributing, it was on my mind more than that,” McCann said. “I’ve been grinding in the cage, working and a couple of things felt good the last game and I was able to carry it into tonight.
“This is a great environment to play in. It’s just a matter of not getting it done.”
Not only was it a long time between homers but it also was a lengthy at-bat that resulted in his eighth home run. In his 15th career at-bat against Buehrle, McCann reached a 2-2 count by taking a fastball before fouling off consecutive changeups and consecutive fastballs.
Buehrle went to the curveball for the second time in the at-bat and McCann lined the ball into the first few rows of the right field seats for New York’s 57th home run this season.
It was McCann’s sixth home run at home and third off left-handed pitching, off which he is batting .288 (17-for-59).
McCann was not finished, as he cleared the bases with a triple against lefty Brett Cecil in the eighth. It was McCann’s third career triple and first since June 6, 2009, a hit he recalled coming after Milwaukee left fielder Ryan Braun lost it in the lights.
“When it fell, it had a good chance for three,” McCann said.
McCann tied a career-high with five RBIs.
“We’d all like to have a type of game like he had tonight,” Brett Gardner said.
“Unbelievable,” Chase Whitley added. “You expect that from him. He’s a great player.”
McCann was not the only Yankee to have a big night in their 15th straight home win over the Blue Jays. Gardner had four hits, Mark Teixeira had a pair of hits and the Yankees reached seven runs for the 14th time this season and fifth time at home.
One of their more productive nights at the plate helped Whitley get his third straight win. He allowed two runs and five hits in five innings while throwing a career-high 95 pitches.
Whitley’s worst inning was the fourth when he gave up consecutive two-out RBI singles to Dioner Navarro and Rasmus. He avoided more damage by getting Muenori Kawasaki on a harmless groundout and a few minutes later was in line for the win when McCann homered.
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.