The reasons the Yankees face an uphill climb to avoid missing the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time in two decades are numerous.
Inconsistent offense and the inability to consistently get hits with runners in scoring position ranks high on the list. Brian McCann will freely point the finger at himself even as he spends his time learning a new pitching staff and league.
While the overall picture has been a disappointment for the catcher signed to a five-year, $85 million deal in December, his biggest at-bat as a Yankee to date was not a letdown.
McCann’s dramatic three-run pinch-hit home run with two outs in the 10th gave the Yankees a 7-4 victory over the White Sox and capped a homestand that started with back-to-back losses to the Astros.
“It was awesome,” McCann said. “Pinch hitting is not easy to do. To lay off some tough pitches and to get a pitch up in the zone and not miss with the game on the line is special.”
“It just showed you that he stayed ready,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He came in and got a huge hit for us.”
McCann didn’t hesitate to let out the emotion following his biggest hit of the season.
“I was fired up,” McCann said. “That’s a moment that’s up there for me. I was going to let it out.”
Those three-run losses had fans flooding talk radio and declaring this season over. In the time since the Astros scored three times in the seventh on Wednesday, the Yankees held an informal hitters meeting to say enough is enough. The last four games have been victories.
Three of those have been of the comeback variety. The Yankees sandwiched Saturday’s 5-3 victory by coming back from a pair of three-run deficits in their two walk-off victories this weekend.
Grinding out those type of wins has put the Yankees within 3 1/2 games of the Mariners for the second wild card.
“I think [it was the biggest win this season], considering who we’re facing,” Girardi said. “I think it’s fair to say.”
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.