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Granderson hopes slump is history

10/13/2012 5:47 PM ET
By Joe Auriemma

Curtis Granderson homered in Game 5 of the ALDS to break out of his recent slump.(AP)

Throughout the American League Division Series against the Orioles, a lot was made of the pinch hitting for and the benching of Alex Rodriguez, who struggled mightily to do anything offensively. However, A-Rod was not the only Yankee to struggle in the series at the plate. Nick Swisher continued his postseason woes and the Yankees' leading home run and RBI producer in the regular season, Curtis Granderson, looked completely lost the first four games of the series. His 1-for-16 was bad enough, but he also struck out nine times, tying the third highest strikeout mark in ALDS history.

Then something happened in Game 5. He broke out of his slump. The lefty slugger went 2-for-3 with a stolen base, all while hitting a huge home run that gave the Yankees a huge 3-0 cushion. What's even more impressive is that Girardi kept Granderson in the game to face Troy Patton, a left-handed pitcher, a matchup that he has had problems with in 2012. Against lefties, Granderson hit only 14 of his 43 home runs, sporting only a .218 average against southpaws.

“You know, a lot of his struggles were off of lefties, and he had some pretty good at‑bats off Hammel over at their place and during the course of their season,” Girardi said. “So I just felt like, you know, I am going to leave him in there. And obviously he came through today. That third run is a huge run for us and off a lefty. For Curtis, the big thing is when he swings at strikes, he is extremely dangerous.  I mean, that's the bottom line.”

“The big thing is I stayed aggressive in the strike zone,” Granderson said after game five. “That was the big thing Kevin Long was talking about. The swing looked good and it felt good, we just had to go and swing at pitches in the zone. It's very simple, when you swing at strikes, you have a better opportunity to be successful. When you chase balls out of the zone, you're night can be very long.”

Now the slate is wiped clean as the Yankees move on to the ALCS against the Tigers. It's a new series and everything starts back at zero. However, looking back at the regular season, the former Tiger also had a decent season playing his old mates. In 10 games, he went 11-for-43, scoring 11 runs, with three doubles, four home runs and 12 runs batted in. This is the postseason though. The numbers in the regular season are all washed away.

“There's been good and bad parts against them,” Granderson said. “I know they're going to be very educated understanding what they need to do to be successful against our lineup. They have some great arms both in the rotation and in the bullpen, so you can't take what's happened you just have to get ready to start the series.”

For the Yankees, Granderson is such an important bat in the lineup. Most of the season, he has fluctuated from the middle to the back end of the lineup. In Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, the Yankees have him batting eighth. What a luxury for the Yankees to have a hitter at the bottom of the order that had the second highest total of home runs in the American League, while driving in a team high 106 runs. Make no bones about it, he took a lot of flak for not hitting in those first three games, but he is a key component to this team when he is right.

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