His feet are quicker. He releases the ball faster. But Brian McCann is passing along the credit to one of his coaches.
"Gary Tuck, he's changed the way I catch and throw," McCann said after the Yankees' 1-0 win over the Astros on Monday night.
With pinch runner Jake Marisnick on first and no outs in a scoreless top of the ninth, Andrew Miller struck out Luis Valbuena on a 3-and-2 slider. Marisnick took off with the pitch, but McCann delivered a perfect strike to shortstop Didi Gregorius at second for a double play.
"That feels great," McCann said.
It was more of the same from McCann, who has caught 21 of the 54 baserunners who have attempted to steal on him this season, or 39 percent. That's fifth in the American League, and also would be a career high for McCann. His mark last season, 37 percent, is his previous best. Last year also happens to be the year that Tuck, the Yankees' bullpen coach, joined the team.
"We work on it every day together," McCann said. "I'm getting the ball out quick. No wasted movement . . . I've gotten better as the season's gone on."
The double play stifled the Astros rally, and Miller got Chris Carter swinging in the next at-bat.
In the bottom half of the inning, McCann was at it again, this time helping to set the table for the game-winning run. With Oliver Perez on the mound for the Astros, Brett Gardner led off with a walk and after moving to second on a wild pitch, Alex Rodriguez was intentionally walked. Recognizing Perez's lack of control, McCann didn't lift the bat off his shoulders and drew a five-pitch walk to load the bases.
Then Chad Qualls replaced Perez on the mound, and Carlos Beltran came to the plate.
"It's a game that we have to win when you have the bases loaded and nobody out," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "The guy that's been coming through a lot the last two or three weeks, came up in that spot and got it done: Carlos."
Beltran drove the first pitch he saw off Qualls to deep centerfield. Carlos Gomez didn't even bother throwing to home plate, and Gardner jogged in for the walk-off run.
"In that particular at-bat, I'm just trying to be aggressive," Beltran said. "As aggressive as I can, and hopefully do what just happened. Try to hit a fly ball deep in the outfield that allows the runner to score."
The Yankees got their run without using a single hit.
"We have guys that don't chase out of the zone," McCann said. "We're going to make you throw strikes and we're able to get three walks there in the ninth, and then Carlos there with a huge hit."