Curtis Granderson said he still checks the lineup sheet everyday. He walks into the clubhouse every day not sure whether he’ll be starting or where he’ll be hitting. He doesn’t take it for granted that his name will be there, in the No. 2 hole, playing center field.
“Always,” he said. “I still check to see that.”
Might be time to take it at least a little bit for granted. With three hits and a home run tonight, Granderson further established himself as the Yankees most consistent hitter and one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball. He’s closed his most glaring hole: The inability to hit left-handed pitchers.
He’d never before hit more than five home runs off lefties in a single season. This year he leads the Major Leagues with nine home runs against lefties. The latest was a two-run shot against Brett Anderson, a guy who had not allowed a left-handed extra-base hit this season and hadn’t allowed a left-handed home run since August of 2009.
“Anderson is as good as it gets,” Joe Girardi said. “It’s hard to believe. The adjustment that this guy has made is remarkable.”
Granderson leads the Yankees with 17 home runs and 41 RBI. He’s hitting .284, and actually has a higher batting average against lefties than against righties.
“The big thing is just trying to use what we’ve been working on, Kevin Long and myself,” Granderson said. “Just being there ready to hit. Being down, being consistently in a position to attack the baseball and hopefully recognize pitches (and) lay off some pitches. It’s still a constant battle.”
For Granderson, the battle might be constant. For the Yankees, the one constant has been Granderson.
Here’s the center fielder.
• One night after Bartolo Colon pitched a complete game, Freddy Garcia pitched seven good innings for his fourth win of the season. These two just keep getting it done. “You play here, you want to do good,” Garcia said. “You want to have a chance to go to the playoffs and World Series with this team.”
• The biggest out for Garcia came in the fourth inning when he walked Kevin Kouzmanoff to load the bases before inducing an inning-ending grounder from Andy LaRoche, who had tripled the inning before. Garcia said he was pitching around Kouzmanoff specifically to face LaRoche.
• The scariest out for Garcia came in the sixth when Kouzmanoff lined a comebacker that somehow found Garcia’s glove for a double play. “That was lucky,” Garcia said. “Almost got hit in my face. I don’t even know how I caught that ball.”
• This was Garcia’s 300th career start in the American League. He’s the fifth active pitcher to reach that mark.
• Back-to-back nights, the Yankees have faced very good starting pitchers and scored almost immediately. “We’ve been able to do it the first two nights here, getting a couple of two-run homers here,” Girardi said. “That’s real important. Anderson’s got outstanding stuff and an outstanding slider. You don’t see a lot of home runs in this ballpark, but he gave up his first one to a lefty.”
• It was a botched play that sent Mark Teixeira home on an unusual double steal. “When things are going right, they’re going right,” Girardi said. “You get some hits to fall in that aren’t necessarily hit the hardest and that’s when you can score a lot of runs.”
• Russell Martin was taken out because Girardi plans to have him catch tomorrow. His toe is fine.
• Everyone else who was pulled late in the game is also fine. Girardi was just giving them a late-inning break in a blowout.
• Alex Rodriguez went 3-for-4 and he’s now 7-for-9 with 21 RBI in 11 plate appearances after Mark Teixeira has been intentionally walked. He’s hitting .383 in his past 14 games.
• Teixeira extended his season-high hitting streak to eight games. He’s hitting .303 during the streak, but he did have his streak of six straight games with an RBI snapped. That was the second-longest RBI streak of his career.
• Derek Jeter is now 17 hits away from 3,000 after a 2-for-4 night that included a pair of infield singles, a walk and a stolen base. “He started off the game with a base hit,” Girardi said. “He’s been really good about getting on his first AB for us and setting the tone.”
• The Yankees have now won nine straight games against Oakland. It’s their longest winning streak against the A’s since August 6, 1964 through August 18, 1965 when they also won nine straight.
Associated Press photos