In their quest to divide up left-handed hitters with Alex Rodriguez sidelined, Curtis Granderson moved up to the leadoff spot on Sunday. He had batted there six times this season and was 3-for-19 with one home run prior to Sunday.
Since joining the Yankees he has batted leadoff eight times after doing so in 547 games in Detroit.
And since the Tigers are slated to throw four right-handed starting pitchers, Granderson likely will remain there.
Part of Girardi’s reasoning for making up his lineup is based on on-base percentage and though Robinson Cano has the team’s highest OBP against right-handers, he also is the team’s biggest power threat, so Girardi went with Granderson, especially since Ichiro’s on-base percentage is .287 overall.
“Grandy falls in the category of he’s one of our higher guys, so that’s why he goes there,” Girardi said. “You can well Grandy’s a power hitter — well so is Cano, so is Tex, so is Swish and so is Ibanez — and then why don’t you move him back. Then who do I move up to the front with speed. You might say why don’t you move Ichiro up, well his on-base is not as high as it’s been the past, so then you try to break up your left-handers with your switch-hitters and your right-handers so it’s not easy for them to get through the lineup. If we had all of our hitters, Granderson wouldn’t leadoff but with the injury to Alex you have to make some adjustments.”
Pettitte frustrated by injury
When players get hurt, their first inclination is to return as soon as possible. For Andy Pettitte, that is no different but his broken ankle is more than a two-week injury no matter how optimistic someone is.
That was the message conveyed by Girardi when he recently spoke to Pettitte, whom he believes will return sometime in September.
“That’s our hope,” Girardi said. “I think Andy thought with his broken leg that he was going to be on the mound in two weeks. That’s just Andy. I think you have to hold players back and they have to understand that it’s a process. But as players, we get anxious to come back. That’s the bottom line. I think that’s what happened with Andy.
“It takes time. When you miss as much time as he has, you have to build a guy up. You can’t rush him and make him come back too soon when he’s not ready. We’ll just take it day by day.”
Good to be King
In three-plus seasons at the new Yankee Stadium, the Yankees have been shut out just 10 times. The leader in the clubhouse in that category is Felix Hernandez.
Hernandez threw two shutouts in a span of two months during his Cy Young season in 2010 when he won the award with a 13-12 record. On Saturday he was at it again, throwing a two-hitter
“He had everything,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He had all four of his pitches; a couple of different fastballs where he cut it and he sank it. His changeup was outstanding. He was never in any bad counts. You look up and he averaged about a ball per hitter and a couple of strikes per hitter. So it’s not like we were hitting the first strike we were seeing. He just didn’t give us anything to hit.”
In his two starts during 2010, Hernandez seemed to own the Yankees by heavily emphasizing his sinking fastball. He threw it 99 times for 64 strikes. Yesterday, he dominated the Yankees by throwing his four-seam fastball 37 times and his changeup 29 times.
Hernandez’s gem was the first complete game, 1-0 victory by a visiting pitcher in the Bronx since Greg Swindell gave up three hits for Cleveland on Sept. 6, 1988. The last pitcher to do so by allowing two hits or fewer was Baltimore’s Jim Palmer on June 1, 1978.
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.