When Brian McCann came to the plate as a pinch hitter in the 10th inning Sunday, White Sox rightfielder Avisail Garcia was playing so shallow it would have been more appropriate in the Little League World Series.
With two men on and two outs in a tie game, White Sox manager Robin Ventura was practically daring McCann to hit it over Garcia's head.
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He did. And over the wall, too.
McCann's walk-off three-run home run gave the Yankees a 7-4 victory. It was their fourth consecutive win and provided a signature moment for McCann, who has struggled in his first season in pinstripes.
"It was awesome," said McCann, who smacked a low 3-and-2 changeup from Jake Petricka (0-3) just inside the foul pole before a glorious trip around the bases and a pair of bucket showers from his giddy teammates. It was his third career walk-off homer and first as a Yankee. "I'm just glad to come through with a game on the line like that. There's not a better feeling than to hit a walk-off."
McCann showed how much the home run meant to him by yelling and pumping his fists as he rounded the bases before getting Gatorade and water showers from Brett Gardner and Martin Prado.
McCann also had a walk-off bloop single against the Reds on July 20. "Rounding the bases, that was definitely a moment I'll never forget. I've been able to do some cool things in the game and that ranks right up there at the top."
Carlos Beltran started the winning rally with a two-out double. Ventura intentionally walked Chase Headley to get to Francisco Cervelli, even though Joe Girardi had McCann ready to pinch hit. The home run was McCann's 15th.
The Yankees, who moved to within six games of Baltimore in the AL East and remained 3 1/2 games behind Seattle for the second AL wild card, went through a full range of emotions.
They were three outs away from a come-from-behind 4-3 victory when David Robertson gave up a tying home run to Garcia on the first pitch of the ninth inning. It was Robertson's third blown save in 37 chances and first since June 5. Robertson had converted 22 saves in a row.
That came after the Yankees battled back from a 3-0 deficit to take the lead in the sixth with four unearned runs against Chris Sale, the closest thing to Clayton Kershaw in the American League.
McCann was available to pinch hit in the 10th because Girardi started a nearly all-righthanded lineup against Sale, the reed-thin lefty who had held lefthanded batters to a .135 average.
Ichiro Suzuki was the lone lefty in the lineup. It was Ichiro who gave the Yankees their first lead in the sixth with a two-out, two-run single. They were the first RBIs by a lefty against Sale in more than a year, since Minnesota's Joe Mauer had a two-run double Aug. 17, 2013.
"Amazing," Ichiro said in English.
Sale was cruising with a 3-0 lead and had allowed two hits -- one to Ichiro -- when Dayan Viciedo dropped a one-out drive to left-center by Martin Prado for a two-base error, capping a weekend of poor defense by the White Sox.
Mark Teixeira followed with an RBI double inside the third-base bag to make it 3-1. One out later, the Yankees had the bases loaded when Sale hit rookie Zelous Wheeler on the leg with a first-pitch curveball to make it 3-2. Wheeler smartly did not move a muscle as the ball closed in on him.
Ichiro lined the next pitch to right-center to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead.
Chris Capuano allowed three runs in six innings for the Yankees. Alexei Ramirez homered to left leading off the game and Conor Gillaspie hit a two-run shot in the sixth.
It won't get easier from here. The Yankees play a makeup game in Kansas City on Monday night before continuing to Detroit and Toronto. In the next four games, they are scheduled to face James Shields, Rick Porcello, David Price and Justin Verlander. But maybe this is the beginning of the run they've been waiting for all season.
"To win a game like today, you build momentum," McCann said. "That's how you sustain long winning streaks."