samedi 21 avril 2012

Yankees defeat Twins; Granderson hits 3 HRs

After Curtis Granderson’s dazzling performance last night was finished, Nick Swisher gave his Yankees teammate some ribbing.

“Curt, you hit three,” Swisher said. “You can’t hit four?”

Swisher’s quip came after Granderson delivered one of the greatest showings in the history of the Yankees franchise. The center fielder blasted three home runs — in his first three at-bats — in last night’s 7-6 victory over the Twins in The Bronx and finished with five hits and four RBIs.



Anthony J. Causi

TWIN KILLER: Curtis Granderson watches his third home run of the game, a fourth-inning solo homer.

No Yankee had ever delivered three homers and five hits in one game. Almost 80 years after Lou Gehrig hit four homers in a game, the Grandy Man just missed matching The Iron Horse.

“What he did today is a special day,” manager Joe Girardi said, “and it doesn’t happen very often.”

Three homers in a game had never happened in the new Yankee Stadium, which opened in 2009. Granderson is the 20th different Yankee to hit three homers, with the accomplishment done by Yankees a cumulative 28 times in the regular season.

The list includes all the greats — Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Bill Dickey, Alex Rodriguez. Ruth and Reggie Jackson also did it in the World Series.

“I just walked over and congratulated him,” Jackson said. “I enjoyed it. I think the nicest part is, he had two more chances to hit four. I was watching the TV.”

Thanks mainly to Granderson — with help from Mark Teixeira (who homered for the first time in 45 at-bats this season) and the bullpen (3 2/3 scoreless innings) — the Yankees overcame another uninspiring Phil Hughes outing. They now head to Fenway to meet the hated Red Sox for a three-game set beginning this afternoon.

Granderson’s heroics began with one out in the first inning when he smashed an Anthony Swarzak fastball over the right-field wall for a solo homer. The next inning, this time with Derek Jeter on first, he clobbered a fastball into the second deck in right.

Up next was reliever Jeff Gray in the fourth. Granderson took him deep on a changeup, lining a solo homer to right.

“I was surprised that one got out,” Granderson said.

In the sixth, Granderson lined a single to right off Alex Burnett. Finally in the eighth, his last bid to tie Gehrig, Granderson chopped an infield single off reliever Glen Perkins.

Granderson insisted he wasn’t thinking about going deep in his last two at-bats.

“It never crosses my mind,” he said.

Rodriguez was the most recent Yankee to hit three homers, doing it on Aug. 14, 2010, in Kansas City. He also was the most recent Yankee to do it in The Bronx, that coming on April 26, 2005, versus the Angels in the old Yankee Stadium.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, Hughes’ outing was relatively unimpressive. Because of Eduardo Nunez’s first-inning error, only two of Hughes’ six runs allowed were earned. But the struggling righty went only went 5 1/3 innings. He surrendered a two-run double to Danny Valencia and a two-run homer to Ryan Doumit.

“Not a great outing,” Hughes said, “but happy to get the win out of it.”

In his last 26 starts dating back to 2010 and including the postseason, Hughes’ ERA is a staggering 5.96.

Granderson’s performance, has been a bit better. Last season, he smacked 41 homers and finished fourth in the AL MVP balloting, and now he leads the American League with six homers.

“The kid,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said, “can hit.”

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