Here we are in 2011. The Yankees had only won four home games this month. “Consistently inconsistent” would probably be the best description for their play. The pressing trend has been the team’s inability to hit with runners in scoring position. They were too reliant upon the home run.
Speaking of home runs, this series against the Blue Jays was billed as a duel between the Majors’ top two home run hitters: Jose Bautista of the Jays and Curtis Granderson of the Yankees. Bautista won Round 1 Monday night. Granderson won Round 2 on Tuesday. Granderson keyed the Yankees’ comeback from a 4-1 deficit with a leadoff double in the eighth inning, leading the “Thank you for taking Ricky Romero out of the game” charge. He later scored on Robinson Canó’s RBI double. With two outs in the ninth, Granderson singled to drive in Chris Dickerson, tying the game at 4-4. Minutes later, he scored the game-winning run on Mark Teixeira’s single.
Granderson went 4-for-5 on the night, bringing his current line to .275/.347/.618. He has been the Yankees’ best all-around player this season, and a top-5 player in the American League. Granderson remains second in home runs to Bautista, is fourth in RBI, second in runs scored, third in slugging percentage, and fourth in OPS.
The Yankees’ last four runs were all scored with two out. They went 4-for-6 with runners in scoring position over the last two innings, 4-for-4 with two out and runners in scoring position. This is the stuff that builds a team’s self-belief. Late-inning comebacks like this helped carry the team to a World Series title two years ago.
Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, though. We don’t yet know the identity of this Yankee team, or where they’re going to end up. For one night, here’s what we do know: Curtis Granderson’s efforts led to another pie at Yankee Stadium III. They made a winner out of CC Sabathia, who delivered the Yankees’ first complete game in 341 starts.
And they put the Yankees in first place.