A year ago, Curtis Granderson had trouble staying in the New York Yankees’ lineup. This season, he has emerged as a legitimate threat in an already potent batting order.
In his first game at Comerica Park since being traded from the Detroit Tigers, Granderson looks to help lead the Yankees to a fifth win in six games in Monday night’s series opener.
An All-Star for the Tigers in 2009, Granderson struggled at times in his first season with the Yankees (16-9) last year and was being used as a platoon player.
He worked tirelessly on his swing with hitting coach Kevin Long, and is now batting .281 with eight homers and 18 RBIs. He hit a three-run homer in Sunday’s 5-2 win over Toronto.
“It’s a satisfying feeling, but Curtis Granderson deserves the credit,” Long said. “He understands his swing and what he needs to do to make it work.”
Granderson, who played for the Tigers from 2004-09, missed New York’s lone trip to Detroit last season while on the disabled list. Only 43 of his 134 career homers have come at spacious Comerica Park.
The Yankees took two of three from the Tigers to open this season, and have won 11 of the last 16 meetings. They went just 1-3 in Detroit in 2010, however.
Mark Teixeira is a career .220 hitter at Comerica Park, and Robinson Cano is batting .167 in his last five games there. Those two combined for four homers and nine RBIs against the Tigers earlier this year.
Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera hit .455 with a pair of home runs and five RBIs at Yankee Stadium in that series. He is batting .372 with 10 homers and 23 RBIs in 26 career games against New York.
The Tigers (12-16) return home after being swept in their last two series. Detroit, which lost 5-4 to red-hot Cleveland on Sunday, has plated 17 runs while batting .207 with runners in scoring position during its six-game skid.
“We’re not doing enough things to win games,” Jim Leyland said.
This sputtering offense could have trouble breaking out of its funk against the rejuvenated Bartolo Colon (2-1, 2.77 ERA).
After yielding two runs in 6 2-3 innings in a 6-2 victory in Toronto on April 20 – his first start since July 24, 2009 – Colon was even better against Chicago on Wednesday. The veteran right-hander allowed one run, seven hits and one walk while striking out six in eight innings of a 3-1 win.
“He continues to impress us,” Joe Girardi said.
Colon’s first appearance with the Yankees came against Detroit on April 3, when he permitted four runs and six hits in four innings of relief in a 10-7 loss. He gave up a two-run homer to Brennan Boesch and Ramon Santiago had an RBI double. Santiago is batting .471 lifetime against Colon.
The 2005 AL Cy Young Award winner is 0-6 with a 7.33 ERA in his last 10 outings against the Tigers since beating them on April 13, 2003, with the White Sox.
The Tigers counter with Justin Verlander (2-3, 3.64), who made his final April start Wednesday, allowing four runs and five hits in six innings of a 10-1 loss to Seattle.
The six-year veteran is 18-8 with a 2.75 ERA in May, his most wins and best ERA for any month. He made his only May start against the Yankees last season, throwing 6 2-3 innings in a 6-0 home win.
In the Bronx on this season’s opening day, Verlander gave up three runs, three hits and four walks in six innings of a 6-3 loss but didn’t receive a decision. He is 3-1 with a 2.01 ERA in his last four outings against the Yankees at Comerica.
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