With one powerful ninth-inning swing on Saturday night, second baseman Robinson Cano kept the New York Yankees as the first-place team in the American League East.
Cano's 424-foot solo home run off closer Rafael Soriano, which nearly hit the right-field back wall on the fly, allowed the Yankees to defeat the Rays 5-4 at Tropicana Field.
And afterward, the Yankees described it as a sensory experience.
"That's the look, taste and feel of an MVP,'' Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez said. "Tied game, ninth inning, trying to protect first place. That was big.''
"He had some loud noises off his bat three times,'' said Yankees manager Joe Girardi, whose team reclaimed its two-game lead over the Rays. "That was a huge homer.''
Cano never expected it to happen.
"I had a pretty good swing, but I wasn't looking for a home run in that situation,'' said Cano, who went 3-for-4 with two doubles. "I was just trying to get on base.''
He did a lot more than that.
"At that point, my (dugout) chatter is 'Get Mo (Yankees closer Mariano Rivera) up,' "Girardi said.
Rivera shut the door, allowing just a two-out single to Willy Aybar, and the Yankees had an important victory.
"These are the kind of games you want to be involved in,'' Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher said. "The fans are into it. The atmosphere has been electric. We had to battle and fight. Robbie (Cano) came through for us. He has been doing this all year.''
Cano's homer was the third of the night for the Yankees, a 412-foot two-run shot by Mark Teixeira and a 383-foot solo homer by Swisher.
Prior to Cano's homer, Rodriguez popped out to Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett, leading off the ninth and putting a capper on his 0-for-3 evening.
Rodriguez, whose at-bats are greeted by popping flash bulbs around the stadium, is still looking for his 600th career homer. He has gone nine consecutive games (and 37 at-bats) without homering since hitting No. 599 on June 22.
"His at-bats have been fine,'' Girardi said. "He's just missing some (pitches).''
Then Girardi added with a grin, "I told you we should've told him he was (going for) 601.''
Rodriguez, for now, is taking his power slump in good humor.
"The way I'm swinging, it's probably going to take a while, so everybody get comfortable,'' Rodriguez said.