Curtis Granderson’s homerless stretch

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Keith Allison via Creative Commons license)

So here’s a funny question: when’s the last time Curtis Granderson hit a homerun? It’s been a while, twelve team games in fact. That doesn’t really sound like much, but considering that he hit four homers in the twelve games before that and two homers in the twelve games before that, it feels like an eternity. Grandy’s last long ball was this garbage time shot off Yoshinori Tateyama in the first game of the Texas series. Yeah, it’s been a while.

There’s a few things worth noting about the homerless stretch. First of all, Granderson isn’t struggling without them. He has ten hits in his last 37 at-bats, a .270 average that is right in line with his .277 season mark. Two of those ten hits have been triples (though it’s hard to call last night’s triple and triple, thanks to Nyjer Morgan), and triples still clear the bases like homeruns. He’s also drawn eleven walks and been hit by two pitches in that time, good for a .426 OBP. Homers or not, getting on base that often is stellar.

Secondly, the lack of homers is likely a regression back to normalcy more than anything else. With 21 homers through the team’s first 65 games, Granderson was on pace to go deep more than 52 times this season, and it was really hard to see him doing that. No matter how prolific his power may be, 52 homers in a season is rarefied air. There’s a reason it’s only happened 31 times in baseball history. Twenty-one homers through 77 games put Grandy on pace for 44 dingers, which is still a huge number that we would have happily signed up for before the season started.

Third, pitchers really aren’t pitching him all that differently. With some help from Texas Leaguers, here’s a breakdown of the pitch selection Granderson’s seen since his last homer on June 14th…

Just a few more sliders, on average eight more per 100 pitches seen, which works out to about two more per game (give or take). It’s not like pitchers have stopped feeding Granderson fastballs all together. Yeah, his strikeout rate has gone up, from one whiff for every 4.38 plate appearances before his last homer to one for every 3.76 at-bats since, but six strikeouts in his first three games after that last homer are skewing the numbers. In his last nine games, Granderson has struck out once every 4.88 plate appearances.

We’re just about halfway through the season and Curtis Granderson is hitting .277/.365/.579 (.405 wOBA) with 21 homers, 38 extra-base hits, and 13 steals while playing very good defense at a premium position. He’s also played in all 77 team games (75 starts, two appearances off the bench), and durability is a wonderful trait. Whether you prefer fWAR (4.2) or bWAR (2.9), he’s already surpassed last season’s production (3.6 and 2.8, respectively). Granderson hasn’t hit a homerun in more than two weeks, but it’s just a blip on the radar more than anything. The fact that it’s noticeable when he doesn’t go deep for twelve straight should tell you that he’s been pretty damn awesome.

Yankees crush Greinke, Brewers in series opener

The pitching matchup was lopsided (on paper), the offense were pretty comparable (on paper), and you had two first place teams (in reality) opening a three game set on Tuesday night. The Yankees put this one to bed early, rolling to their third straight win.

OMG he is sooooo hot.

Feed The Narrative

So maybe Zack Greinke can’t pitch in New York. Or maybe he can and this was a bad game. Or maybe he can but his laughable defense betrayed him. Seriously, how bad are the Brewers in the field? Nyjer Morgan turned a routine fly ball into a triple in the first, and Casey McGehee tried to tag Alex Rodriguez at third instead of throwing to first (with Jorge Posada running!) to end the frame. Laughable. But anyway…

The Yankees knocked Greinke out of this game after just two innings and 56 pitches, tagging him for seven runs. After coming into the game with eight unintentional walks all season, he walked three in this game. It was also the first time in his career he did not strike out a batter in a start. Instead of focusing on the fact that the Yankees crushed an elite pitcher, we’ll all argue over Greinke’s ability to handle pressure and New York and whatever else we can come up with. Either way, yay Yankees win.

Freddy Gets By

A closer game would have been much more stressful. After a scoreless first inning and a quick second inning, Freddy Garcia really wasn’t fooling anybody. The Brewers hit several rockets but ran themselves into two inning-ending outs on the bases that killed potential rallies. In fact, Milwaukee’s fourth inning went like this: single, single, fielder’s choice (runner out at second), single, sacrifice fly (runner thrown out trying to go from first to second). The Brew Crew were all over Freddy the second and third time through the order, but hey, two runs in six innings. Sign me up.

Hilarity ensues.

Lol Brewers, lol

I touched on this a second ago, but how sloppy were the Brewers? Let us count the ways…

  1. Morgan plays that routine fly ball into a triple
  2. Brewers play the shift on A-Rod to pull, but they feed him offspeed stuff away and he slaps a single where the second baseman should have been.
  3. McGehee fields a grounder at third and tries to tag A-Rod instead of throwing to first to get the slow-footed Jorge Posada to end the inning. McGehee hurt himself in the process, but stayed in the game.
  4. Marco Estrada simply dropped the ball while on the mound for a balk.
  5. Zach Braddock went to his mouth while on the mound, resulting in an automatic ball four to Robinson Cano.
  6. Rickie Weeks’ falls down fielding a routine ground ball, shuffles it to Yuniesky Betancourt at second for the first out, but he bobbled it and couldn’t turn the inning ending double play.

That’s all the stuff I can remember, and just for the record: I did not see number five. I was in the other room at the time, so I’m going off word of mouth for that one. Craziest thing? The Brewers had ZERO errors in the game. Goes to show how useless they really are. We’ve definitely seen the Yankees play a sloppy game like that once or twice this season, and it sure is no fun to watch. The Brewers will be better than that Wednesday night, I’m sure of it.

Oh By The Way, Offense!

Hooray for double digit runs, that’s a good way to make the night fun. Nick Swisher hit a three-run homer off Greinke (and a double later), and Mark Teixeira hit a two-run shot in garbage time for his MLB lead tying 24th. Curtis Granderson reached base three times (two walks and the “triple”), A-Rod reached base three times (two hits and a walk), Brett Gardner reached twice (walk and a hit-by-pitch to leadoff the game), and the trio of Russell Martin, Jorge Posada, and Eduardo Nunez each picked up a hit as well. Chris Dickerson got to pinch-hit in garbage time and put just his second ball in play of the month. That lack of playing time will kill ya.

Out.

Leftovers

Garcia was lifted after six innings and just 76 pitches, which seemed kinda odd. If the game was closer, I’d understand it more, but they were up by nine at the time. Probably could have squeezed another inning or two out of him, but whatever. Nitpicking at its finest. (Ed. Note: Girardi later said he pulled Garcia because the bottom of the 6th lasted too long, and he didn’t want to run Garcia back out there. Understandable.)

Oh, Nyjer did the honors of hitting a line drive right back at Garcia, which he caught but dropped before throwing to first for the out. One comebacker per start for Freddy, it’s in his contract. Look it up.

Hector Noesi relieved Garcia and┬áreally had to work in his two innings (48 pitches), but he did strike out three. After the beating he took in Cincinnati, it’s good to see him get back out there and toss up a few zeroes. Cory Wade tossed an uneventful ninth.

The Yankees have won three in a row, seven of their last nine, ten of their last 13, and 13 of their last 17. That’s a pretty nice run, I’d say.

WPA Graph & Box Score

Nice and boring. MLB.com has the box score and video, FanGraphs the nerd score.

Up Next

Game two of the series will be played tomorrow night, when A.J. Burnett gives it a go against his former Blue Jays’ teammate Shaun Marcum. If you want to check out the game, RAB Tickets can get you there on the cheap.

Banuelos strong in Trenton win

Fresh off last night’s stellar effort, Nik Turley has been promoted from Low-A Charleston to High-A Tampa. Kramer Sneed and Dan Burawa both appear to be making the trip up as well. Jose Ramirez was activated off the disabled list to take one of the open spots on the River Dogs’ roster.

Fourth rounder Matt Duran was at Yankee Stadium working out with the team today. They’ve done this a number of times through the years, and it usually leads to the player signing shortly thereafter.

Triple-A Scranton (9-2 loss to Norfolk)
Austin Krum, LF: 0 for 5
Luis Nunez, SS & Jesus Montero, C: both 0 for 3, 1 BB – Nunez whiffed … Montero allowed a passed ball and missed a catch for an error
Mike Lamb, 1B: 2 for 4, 1 2B, 1 3B
Terry Tiffee, DH: 1 for 4, 1 2B
Brandon Laird, 3B & Greg Golson, CF: both 1 for 4 – Laird scored a run and struck out twice … Golson struck out and got picked off first
Jordan Parraz, RF: 0 for 2, 1 R, 2 BB
Doug Bernier, SS: 2 for 4, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 K – seldom used backup infielder is on a nice little run, six for his last 16 (.375)
Greg Smith, LHP: 6 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 6 BB, 2 K, 1 HB, 8-4 GB/FB – 60 of 103 pitches were strikes (58.3%) … that’s us u-g-l-y
Fernando Hernandez, RHP: 2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K – 29 of 50 pitches were strikes (58%) … he’s so bad, so so bad

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Kuroda requires compensation to waive no-trade clause

Late last night word got out that Dodgers’ right-hander Hiroki Kuroda will require some kind of compensation to waive his no-trade clause at the deadline. Kuroda is expected to be one of the best available starters this summer, though Joel Sherman reports that the Yankees will not give the 36-year-old an extension to facilitate a trade. Kuroda is currently having his worst season in the States, but he still has a 3.10 ERA with a 3.82 FIP. I’ll take it.

2011 Draft: Yankees sign 13th rounder Justin James

Via K. Levine-Flandrup, the Yankees have signed 13th round pick Justin James to an unknown signing bonus (most likely above slot). He took his physical today. James, an outfielder from a Sacramento JuCo, is Dion‘s son and one of the higher upside prospects the Yankees drafted this year. He shows huge power in batting practice and high-end speed, though he’s very raw because he quit baseball in high school to focus on basketball. James is super intriguing, but there’s a lot of work to be done here. If he moves quickly, I’ll be surprised.

Meanwhile, KL-F also notes that second rounder Sam Stafford is in the middle of taking physicals and whatnot, so a deal could be announced shortly.