Curtis Granderson is a career .182 hitter against Francisco Liriano. He’s hit well against nearly every other pitcher on the Twins staff, but Granderson has struggled against tonight’s starter.
Whether to play Granderson, though, was never a debate for Joe Girardi.
“I don’t look at his numbers in the past,” Girardi said. “He’s a different hitter now, we think. You look at what he did the last two months in his at-bats against left-handers. He was a different guy for us. I know there was a lot of talk about him against left-handers in the beginning of the year and coming into the year, (but) his at-bats against left-handers were good.”
Granderson seemed to hit everyone in September. He had nine home runs and 23 RBI. His .278 batting average was the highest for a single month since May, when he had only 15 at-bats because of injury. It had to come as a relief for the Yankees, who traded three players — including a Rookie of the Year candidate — for what they expected to be a long-term solution in center field, not just a platoon player with disappointing numbers.
“We believed he was capable of doing it,” Girardi said. “You look at the past years, he had some OK years against left-handers. Always very good against right-handers. It’s good to see. It’s great to see as a guy matures he continues to get better. He made a minor adjustment that made a big change for him, and that’s always encouraging.”
Girardi said he considered starting Austin Kearns tonight, but the decision was between Kearns and Brett Gardner. Kearns numbers area what they are, and Gardner is a career .333 hitter with a triple and three RBI in nine at-bats against Liriano. Kearns is 2-for-5 with two doubles off Liriano.
“We just thought we’d go with Gardy,” Girardi said. “He played well all year for us. Kearnsy struggled a little bit down the stretch with the injuries.”
Here’s Girardi’s pregame press conference. He does two sessions during the postseason, one with the small group of beat writers and one for any reporter who wants to ask a question. This is the bigger session.
• Turns out Mark Teixeira had a shot in his bruised hand. This was around the time he sat out two games in Baltimore. Girardi said he shot came after the Baltimore series when the Yankees got back to New York, but Teixeira never sat out any of those games at Yankee Stadium, and it’s hard to believe — given how cautious Girardi was with injuries in September — that Teixeira would have played immediately after getting a cortisone shot in his hand. Girardi either misremembers when the shot happened, or rolled the dice for a game or two against the Rays.
• Girardi said A.J. Burnett’s only bullpen limitation is that he wouldn’t pitch two days in a row. Girardi would prefer not to ask him to come into a game with runners on base, “but it may come to that,” Girardi said.
• Dustin Moseley would be limited to around 40 pitches tonight.
• Greg Golson seems to be the Yankees top pinch-running option, but Girardi said he would be more likely to use Ramiro Pena if he were pinch running for one of his infielders late in a game. Sounds like Golson would be the guy to run for Nick Swisher, Jorge Posada or Marcus Thames.
• With only one left-handed reliever, Girardi said he’ll use matchups — imagine that! — to decide which of his right-handers would face some of the Twins tough lefties if/when Boone Logan has already been used. “I’m not afraid to use any of those guys against lefties,” he said.
• One more note about only one lefty in the bullpen: Girardi said some of the thinking in not carrying Royce Ring was that, with lefties starting four of five games, he didn’t expect to need a left-handed situational lefty until late in the game, which should make it easier to get through with only Logan.
• Girardi said he would be hesitant but not completely against using Mariano Rivera for more than three outs tonight. Would he be hesitant using him for two full innings? “Right now, maybe,” Girardi said.
• Twins manager Ron Gardenhire on Randy Moss being traded to Minnesota: “I don’t have Moss on my fantasy team, so I wasn’t worried about him. And I couldn’t get Favre, somebody took him before my team drafted, so I don’t really give a flip.”
• Tomorrow, I want Girardi to say he doesn’t give a flip about something.
Associated Press photos of Granderson, and Rodriguez, Jeter and Posada