Slam Dunk: Yankees Having a Grand Ol’ Season
The New York Yankees enjoyed another win today, beating the Houston Astros 9-3. The Bronx Bombers are now 39-23, a season-high 16 games above .500.
Derek Jeter smacked a lead-off homer, belting a solo dinger over the left field wall and into the visiting bullpen. That round-tripper marked Jeter’s 24th career lead-off homer, which ties him with Ricky Henderson for most lead-off homers in team history.
One more and Jeter will have the Yankee lead-off home run record.
Including the postseason, that home run also marked Jeter’s 3,000th career hit. Yeah, I know it was not his real 3,000th career hit, but it still says a lot about how much the Yankee Captain has done over the years.
Later in the game, Jeter was at it again. In the in bottom of the sixth he crushed a three-run homer, this time to right-center field. He now has nine career multi-homer games, eight homers on the season, and he finished the day with four RBIs.
Although Jeter did not hit a grand slam, he might as well be credited with one. This brings me to my point: grand slams. It seems this season the Yanks have been frequently leaving the yard when the bases are loaded.
June 12: Jorge Posada
The Yankee catcher was struggling mightily heading into today. But with the bases loaded in the bottom of the third, Jorge Posada took an 0-1 curveball over the right-center field wall. It was his seventh home run of the year and eighth career grand slam.
Posada’s visit to granny today also marked his 250th career home run. He is now one of five catchers to have hit 250 homers, had 1,500 hits, and 350 doubles in a career. The others are Carlton Fisk, Ivan Rodriguez, Gary Carter, and Johnny Bench.
That stat could perhaps be Hall of Fame worthy for the Yankee backstop.
Before Posada took Astros’ starter Wandy Rodriguez deep, the game was tied 2-2. With one swing of the bat Posada gave the Yankees a four run lead which they never looked back from. He later singled to right field in the fifth and was hit by a pitch in the seventh.
Perhaps Posada has turned the corner and has broken out of his slump. Entering today, he only had two hits in his last 29 at-bats. In other good news for Posada, it was confirmed after today’s win that he will be catching behind the plate in tomorrow’s series finale vs. Houston.
After coming back from the disabled list on June 2, Posada had not caught a game and had been confined to the designated hitter spot. With the majority of the team banged up, it’ll be interesting to see who Joe Girardi puts in the DH hole tomorrow.
As for Posada, nicely done. He needs to keep on swinging the bat the way he did today.
June 8: Curtis Granderson
On Tuesday, the 29 year-old centerfielder broke out the mustard and rye for a grand salami against the Baltimore Orioles. Curtis Granderson took O’s starter Kevin Millwood deep to right field in the top of the third inning.
For Granderson, it was his second career grand slam and his fourth homer of 2010.
The big blast made it 6-0 Yankees and the Bombers went on to take the game 12-7 from the Orioles. One of the better parts of Granderson’s granny was the fact that it came off a left-handed pitcher.
After he was acquired by the Yankees this past off-season, many people said Granderson has trouble hitting lefties. While he is currently only hitting .217 vs. lefties, Granderson has a .248 overall batting average, which is something he can work on as the season progresses.
Also keep in mind his numbers might have been a little better if he had not injured himself and been sidelined on May 1. Granderson missed practically the entire month of May, but since his return has not been struggling nearly as badly as he was before he went down.
When he went on the disabled list, Granderson was hitting a weak .225.
But he has since raised his average, has played some prodigious defense in centerfield, and has been a better offensive player. The grand slam on Tuesday was just another example of how much of an asset he can be to a team.
Down the stretch we will probably see more great things from him.
May 14 & 31: Alex Rodriguez
Twice (so far) this season, the Yankee slugger has cleared the bases with one swing.
On May 14, Alex Rodriguez took Minnesota Twins’ reliever Matt Guerrier deep into the left field seats for a grand slam in the bottom of the seventh, a go-ahead moon shot that gave the Yanks a 7-4 lead. The Bronx Bombers went on to win 8-4.
Guerrier had come into the game to face Rodriguez after an intentional walk of Mark Teixeira, much to the confusion of almost everyone in the ballpark. Heading into the at-bat, Rodriguez was 4-for-6 lifetime vs. Guerrier, four of those hits being home runs.
Twins’ skipper Ron Gardenhire gambled and it didn’t pay off. He said after the game, “In that situation it’s kind of like you have to pick your poison.”
That marked Rodriguez’s 19th career grand slam and his 587th career homer, which put him ahead of Eddie Murray on the all-time home runs list–seventh place.
17 days later, the third baseman did it again, this time vs. the Cleveland Indians.
On May 31, Rodriguez came up (again) in the bottom of the seventh with the bases chucked. The Yankees were only leading 2-1 at that point and once again Teixeira was intentionally walked before the opposing hurler threw to Rodriguez.
With a full count, Rodriguez absolutely murdered the offering and deposited it into Monument Park for a glorious-looking grand slam. It was his 20th career bases-loaded homer and 590th career round-tripper.
The Yankees went on to cruise into an 11-2 win over the Tribe.
Now with 20 career grannies, Rodriguez sits in third place on the all-time career grand slams list behind Manny Ramirez (21) and Lou Gehrig (23).
At press time Rodriguez has eight homers on the year with a .290 batting average and 43 RBIs. He is having an “A-Rod” type season, and he will probably hit well enough to finish with at least 30 home runs and over 100 RBIs.
As long as Rodriguez stays healthy, he will be in good shape. He had to sit out these last three games because of an injury to his hip. He was diagnosed with tendinitis in his right his flexor, coupled with groin stiffness. Girardi said that will continue to evaluate Rodriguez every day, indicating that he probably doesn’t know when he will return to the lineup.
Hope he gets back soon; Rodriguez is one of the biggest threats on the team. Playing a scuffling Astros team, the Yanks were able to win these last two games without him. But can they win their upcoming games against the defending National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets without A-Rod?
Well, we might not have to worry about it. With any luck, our cleanup man will be back before either one of those series begins.
May 28: Robinson Cano
Three days before Rodriguez’s second grand slam this year, the Yankees’ hot-hitting second baseman smacked a grand slam of his own. Against the Indians on May 28, Robinson Cano blasted a seventh inning slam off Tribe reliever Tony Sipp.
With the bases-loaded blast, Cano now has three career slams.
That night was special for Cano, not only because he hit a grand slam, but because it was the first time in his career he batted from the number four spot in the lineup. Before the game, Girardi actually asked Cano if he was comfortable being the number four hitter.
Cano reassured him he was fine with it and obviously he was; it worked out nicely. Cano didn’t feel the pressure and came through with a big time blast. In fact, Cano said after the game that it was a good feeling to be the cleanup hitter and that it was “exciting.”
The Yankees carried on and beat the Indians 8-2.
Because of Rodriguez’s hip flexor injury, Cano has batted from the cleanup spot these last two games. Over the last two days, Cano has collected a pair of hits and scored two runs along with maintaining the best batting average in the American League with .371.
By the end of the season Cano will probably have to make more room in his trophy case. There could be a batting title in his future. If he keeps up the outstanding numbers an MVP Award could be there and of course the big one–another championship ring if everything goes according to plan.
Right now Cano is a hitting machine that mainly produces RBIs. And it doesn’t look like he is slowing down, either. That only means good things for the Yanks and scary things for opposing pitchers.
So there you have it. The Yankees are having a “grand” old season.
Two things I have noticed about their grand slams this year: all of them have come in either the third or seventh inning…and every game they have hit a grand slam in, they have gone on to win.
As I said before, I wish we could credit Jeter with a grand slam today. Instead he got two homers and four RBIs. The Yankee Captain only has one career slam–in June of 2005 he hit his first career grand slam at Yankee Stadium vs. the Cubs.
I’m sure Jeter will take anything as long as the Yanks win, which they did. Tomorrow they will look to sweep the Astros behind Phil Hughes (8-1, 2.71 ERA).
The 23 year-old righty will be gunning for his ninth win of the season and will be opposed by Brian Moehler (0-2, 6.12 ERA).