DETROIT – A day off did nothing to slow down Curtis Granderson.
The New York Yankees center fielder has homered in consecutive games and three of his last four heading into Saturday night’s road matchup against his former team, the Detroit Tigers.
Granderson has 17 homers to tie Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion and the White Sox’s Adam Dunn for second in the majors behind Texas’ Josh Hamilton.
His three-run homer was a big blow in Wednesday’s 6-5 road win over the Angels and he delivered his fourth career grand slam in Friday’s 9-4 win in the opener of this three-game set.
Granderson is 6 for 16 with six runs scored against Detroit (24-28) this year, homering in the last three matchups. He has hit safely in his last 11 games against his former club, including last year’s AL division series that the Tigers won in five games.
Granderson was traded by the Tigers to the Yankees before the 2010 season.
“This is where I started my career, I made a lot of friends and I have some family in the area so it’s always good to come back,” he said.
The Yankees (28-23) entered Friday with the AL’s second-worst mark with the bases loaded at .151.
“I’ve said all along that our bats have not been bad, we just haven’t gotten the hits and eventually that’s going to turn,” manager Joe Girardi said.
New York improved to 5-2 on a nine-game trip in which it has homered 13 times. Mark Teixeira has four homers in the seven games and Robinson Cano has three.
Detroit has dropped four of five to fall a season-worst four games below .500 for the second time. Rookie Quintin Berry and Delmon Young each had three hits Friday.
Prince Fielder had an RBI single in three at-bats, and is hitting .423 with three homers and 18 RBIs over his last 18 games.
Fielder owns the most experience among the Tigers against New York starter Hiroki Kuroda (4-6, 3.96 ERA), going 3 for 9. Kuroda enters off an outstanding outing with eight innings in Sunday’s 2-0 victory at Oakland.
The right-hander’s lone outing against Detroit came in 2010 with the Dodgers as he yielded two runs over six innings in a 6-2 loss.
Kuroda matched up with Rick Porcello (3-4, 5.21) in that contest and will again face the right-hander. Porcello is 0-2 with a 5.75 ERA in his last four outings, yielding three runs over six innings Sunday before leaving without a decision in a 4-3 victory at Minnesota.
Porcello is 2-2 with a 5.56 ERA in four regular-season starts against the Yankees, and was also charged with a 10-1 defeat in Game 4 of last year’s division series after allowing four runs in six innings.
Granderson is 3 for 8 against Porcello, including that playoff game, while Teixeira and Derek Jeter are each 1 for 12.
Detroit’s Alex Avila could return to the lineup after getting hit in the helmet with a foul ball in Thursday’s 7-3 win at Boston. Manager Jim Leyland said Avila is healthy enough to catch.
Outfielder Andy Dirks did not start for the third straight game with a sore Achilles.
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