Thursday night certainly was a night for the ages for one of the more prolific hitters in baseball, Curtis Granderson. To this point in the season, Granderson had already hit three home runs, but something was just a little off with his swing. Whatever was wrong with his game before the Yankees’ 7-6 victory over the Twins was certainly righted.
The Yankees needed this win. It was the last game in the homestand before they traveled up to Boston, and it was a chance to split a series with a Twins team that has had little success in the Bronx over the last decade. Phil Hughes gave up four unearned runs in the first, with Eduardo Nunez committing a huge error that extended his pitch count and the inning. With the Yankees down 4-0 right off the bat, Granderson and the offense went to work.
The Yankees center fielder put on a show, blasting three home runs while driving in four runs in the first four innings en route to a 5-for-5 performance. It will most certainly not be forgotten by the 40,327 in attendance and the people watching at home. He became the first Yankee in franchise history to have three home runs and five hits in a single game.
Granderson was even stunned by that historical note after the game.
“Definitely very amazed that it hadn't been done with all the greats that have played the game here and in this organization,” he said. “You would have expected to see something like that, especially when you see somebody break a record or accomplish something like that, you're like, ‘Wow it hadn't been done here,’ when you consider the Yankees.”
The Yankees’ manager stressed how important this win was and how special a night it was for his center-field slugger.
“Just quite a performance,” Joe Girardi said to the media. “The four RBIs as well, it was just what he did today is a special day and they don't happen very often. He should cherish it, and it's fun to watch as a manager.”
The performance of Phil Hughes, who mercifully got the win; the error by Nunez; and Derek Jeter tying Dave Winfield for 19th on the all-time hits list at 3,110, while extending his hitting streak to 10 games, were all overshadowed by the historical night put up by Granderson in the Bronx.
He was the first Yankee to have three home runs while hitting in the No. 2 spot in the order since Bobby Murcer accomplished the feat on June 24, 1970. Granderson also became the only the 28th player since 1918 to have a five-hit, three-home run game, with Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia being the last to do so on June 24, 2010.
According to the New York Yankees, he became the 20th Yankee with three or more home runs in a single game, and it's only been accomplished 28 times in Yankees regular season history. The accomplishments and feats that he earned in this game go on and on.
Even Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was enamored watching from his own dugout.
“The kid can hit,” he said. “When you get it down there in that zone for him, he can turn on the baseball. That's a nice porch out there for a left-handed hitter, and he took full use of it.”
Girardi was asked after the game if this ballpark is tailor-made for a hitter like Granderson.
“I think that was one of the reasons Brian [Cashman] went and got him is because he is a pull hitter and he's in a sense built for this ballpark because he can hit the ball in the air and can hit it a long ways.”
Granderson was even surprised by the third home run, thinking he didn't get all of it. It didn't even hit him that he had three home runs in the first four innings until he got back to the dugout.
“I think it finally hit me when I got to the dugout and CC [Sabathia] told me to go out there and acknowledge the crowd,” he said. “I had never done that before. I've seen a lot of guys do it, but to actually get the opportunity to do it tonight it puts into perspective what you accomplished up to that point.”
Being the humble ballplayer that he is, Granderson made sure to mention that it was still early in the game when he accomplished the feat and that there was still work to be done in order to earn the hard-fought win.
The Yankees can now travel to Boston feeling a lot better about their homestand, in large part due to the heroics of No. 14.