There was no last-minute adjustment this time. When Joe Girardi posted his lineup, he had Curtis Granderson in the No. 2 spot despite the fact Nick Swisher is healthy and the Rangers are using a left-handed starter. Granderson has been a different sort of hitter against lefties this season. His batting average and slugging percentage are actually higher against lefties than righties.
“To see a guy make an adjustment at his age, I don’t think it’s totally uncommon,” Girardi said. “I’ve seen guys that seemed to blossom a little bit later in their career, but you don’t see it every day. I think a lot of times by the time a guy is 27 or 28 you have pretty good idea of what you have, but Grandy made that little adjustment to simplify things and it really helped him.”
Granderson is hitting .276/.323/.759 against left-handers. His career slash line against them is .217/.276/.361. The change started right here in this very ballpark, where Granderson and Kevin Long began a series of mechanical adjustments that have shown lasting results. Granderson said that during batting practice yesterday, the guys around the cage were joking that he was right back where it all started.
“I thought, if things go well, we continue to work on what Kevin Long and myself did in this ballpark in August, there could be good things with it,” Granderson said. “Part of that could be the power, but just the hitting in general, taking advantage of opporunites (against) both lefties and righties, top of the lineup, bottom of the lineup, early in the game, late in the game. There really wasn’t one thing that what we tried to do last year with the changes that we were trying to focus on. Just more consistency.”
That consistency has given the Yankees a new alternative in their vs.-LHP lineup.
“Swish has had a ton of success off left-handers as well,” Girardi said. “I think it just makes our lineup deeper. If you want to pitch around Robbie, you’re getting a guy that’s going to hit left-handers and is a switch hitter. If you want to bring a left-hander in to face Robbie, he’s probably only going to face one guy. It makes our lineup, I think, a little deeper.”
• Last night, Brett Gardner was trying a straight sacrifice with his first bunt, but he didn’t deaden it enough considering it was Jorge Posada running from second. Gardner’s second bunt of the night — the one he popped up — was Gardner bunting on his own looking for a hit.
• Luis Ayala is scheduled to pitch two innings tomorrow night as the next stage of his rehab assignment with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Girardi said the Yankees have to discuss whether that will be his last rehab outing, and whether they want to bring him back to the big league roster.
• Girardi said he’ll have no updates on Eric Chavez until he gets out of a protective boot in two weeks. The initial diagnosis, though, “was better than we anticipated,” Girardi said.
• Girardi said there was no consideration to calling up Jesus Montero after Chavez went on the disabled list. Bringing up Montero would essentially give the Yankees four players for two spots (catcher and DH) and leave them with just one backup infielder and one backup outfielder. “It’s good to see (Montero) get off to a good start because last year in Triple-A he got off to a slow start,” Girardi said. “It’s good to see him come out of the gates well, and we’ve always thought he was going to hit. That’s the one thing we always thought he was going to do, and he’s been doing that.”
• Probably doesn’t mean a lot for the Yankees because it was looking like he wouldn’t play in this series anyway, but the Rangers officially put Nelson Cruz on the disabled list.
• Another Bartolo Colon start, which means another steady series of fastballs in the strike zone. Colon mixes in occasionally changeups and sliders, but Girardi said he’s pitching more or less the same way he’s always pitched, leaning heavily on the fastball. “A located fastball with movement is still the best pitch in baseball,” Girardi said.
Ian Kinsler DH
Elvis Andrus SS
Michael Young 2B
Adrian Beltre 3B
David Murphy LF
Yorvit Torrealba C
Mitch Moreland RF
Chris Davis 1B
Julio Borbon CF
Associated Press photos