At this point, Curtis Granderson’s slash line is basically the exact same as it was at the end of last season. He hasn’t duplicated his 2007 numbers, but he’s been more or less exactly what the Yankees must have expected when they got him. He’s shown a lot of range in the outfield, flashed some speed on the bases and hit for considerable power for a center fielder.
And he’s been terrific down the stretch. When he reworked his swing in August, Granderson tried to keep himself more compact to help make better contact. Improved power has come with it.
“It’s one of the things that’s been able to happen,” he said. “Compact the swing a little bit makes myself a little quicker, and therefore I get myself out in front of the ball. When we go ahead and keep ourselves compact, we’re out in front the right way.”
Since making those mechanical adjustments, Granderson has hit .273 with 11 home runs and 26 RBI in 37 games. Tonight he went deep twice, once to give the Yankees an early lead, and then to give them the breathing room they ultimately needed.
“It’s been real important,” Joe Girardi said. “Just the way he’s been playing, swinging the bat since he made those adjustments. He bought into it. He’s playing exteremly well. His numbers have been real good for us.”
The Yankees really couldn’t lose on the night George Steinbrenner’s monument was unveiled, and it was Granderson who made sure they didn’t.
“One thing I’ve found out being over here with the Yankees organization is they respect everyone playing hard,” Granderson said. “That’s what the owner would have liked.”
Here’s Granderson’s postgame.
• There is a report out of Ohio that Andrew Brackman has been called up. “If it is, you got he report before I did,” Girardi said. “If it happens, I’ll know tomorrow I guess.” The move wouldn’t come as much of a surprise since Brackman is already on the 40-man. It would be hard to see him playing a huge role, though. UPDATE: Josh Norris talked to Brackman who said it’s not happening.
• According to Elias, the Yankees won on the day every monument was unveiled with one exception: They lost n the day of Mickey Mantle’s dedication in 1999.
• Wouldn’t be a Yankees game in September without asking Girardi about a bullpen decision. Using Chad Gaudin in the sixth? “I liked the matchup,” Girardi said. “I liked his stuff against Upton and Bartlett, and that was the rationale basically.”
• Ivan Nova got through four scoreless innings last time, and he got through five tonight. At this rate, give him a start in the World Series and he’ll pitch a shutout. “That inning I started too slow,” Nova said. “I didn’t attack the hitters that inning. When you don’t attack the hitter, you make mistakes… You feel bad because I was pitching good the first five innings, and then one inning, boom, it’s gone. I have to keep working and try to take that away.”
• The obvious question is, do those first few innings of dominance setup Nova for a bullpen role later this season and into the playoffs? “Right now we have him penciled in as a starter,” Girardi said. “Is (moving him to he bullpen) something we might possibly look at? Yes.”
• Girardi said the Yankees absolutely consider Nova a starter long-term.
• Derek Jeter had two more hits and has been a little better at the plate lately. He tied Mantle for third place on the Yankees all-time runs scored list with the 1,677th of his career tonight. Only Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig have scored more.
• Boone Logan didn’t retired any of the lefties he faced. This was his third straight appearance allowing a run after going 25 straight without a run. “He just gave up some hits off the end of the bat,” Girardi said. “It wasn’t like he was hit hard to say, OK, I’m concerned.”
• Joba Chamberlain was not available tonight.
• Francisco Cervelli went 3-for-4 and tied a career-high with three runs. According to the Yankees, this was the first time a Yankees catcher had three hits and three runs in a game since Jose Molina in 2008.
• Mariano Rivera is now 57-for-58 in save opportunities against the Rays.
• We’ll end with Derek Jeter’s take on Steinbrenner’s monument:
“It was big,” Jeter said. “Probably just how The Boss wanted it. The biggest one out there.”
Would Steinbrenner have liked that idea?
“It probably was his idea.”
Associated Press photos of Granderson with Cervelli and Jeter, Brett Gardner and Nova. You can get more pictures from tonight in our online Yankees gallery.