Granderson saves Yankees, Burnett
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DETROIT -- A.J. Burnett got the win Tuesday night. Boone Logan recorded the last out, but because of the margin of victory in the Yankees' 10-1 win over the Tigers in Game 4 of the American League Division Series, there was no official save.
Curtis Granderson deserves an unofficial one. Granderson made a difficult first-inning catch that it could be argued saved the season for the Yankees. It certainly saved Burnett from getting pulled from the game having allowed three runs in two-thirds of an inning.
That would have changed the way Burnett's outing would be judged throughout history, don't you think?
"It's funny," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "Sometimes you pick the key out in a game and I think the key out in the game happened in the very first inning."
Granderson also made a spectacular catch to end the sixth inning. And he drove in a run with a fifth-inning double as the Yankees earned the right to play a winner-take-all Game 5 Thursday night night in the Bronx.
Granderson made his first-inning catch with the bases loaded and two out. Burnett had walked three batters, including Miguel Cabrera intentionally after falling behind 2-and-0.
Burnett's final pitch of the inning, his 21st, was only his seventh strike.
Don Kelly lined it deep to centerfield. Granderson took a step in before freezing for a moment and then racing back. If he doesn't catch it, the ball is going to the wall -- 420 feet from home plate -- and the Tigers are going to take a 3-0 lead.
Granderson did catch it. He jumped and grabbed the ball with a dive, ending up on the grass with the ball safely in his glove. Burnett looked back at Granderson and smirked.
"I thought it was going to be an out and then it just started carrying and carrying," Joe Girardi said. "Then I started getting nervous."
"Right away, I thought he hit it right to me," Granderson said. "I took a step in and froze. It started to get some air. At least from my perspective, it kind of went up. I was like, 'Oh, man.' I ended up having to leave my feet, which I didn't want to. Don Kelly came up to me later in the game. He goes, 'How did you do it?' I said, 'You hit it that hard. If you didn't hit it that hard, it would have fell in and been a base hit."
Burnett said: "When [Kelly] put a good swing on like that, there was a little drama," Burnett said. "He came in and went back. I was like, 'Ah!' And he caught it. It's impressive. That's probably what I was thinking -- 'Wow, thanks for saving me.' "
Cory Wade was already warming up in the bullpen. Chances are excellent that Kelly would have been Burnett's last batter. Instead, Burnett stayed in until the sixth inning and left with a 4-1 lead. He allowed one run, four hits and four walks with three strikeouts.
Granderson (1-for-5) drove in run No. 3. His double off the rightfield wall against Rick Porcello in the fifth scored Brett Gardner. Another run scored on a sacrifice fly and the Yankees took that lead to Burnett's last inning. Burnett retired the first two batters before Kelly singled. Girardi called in Rafael Soriano, who had given up the go-ahead home run to Delmon Young in Monday night's 5-4 Tigers win in Game 3.
Jhonny Peralta hit what appeared to be a base hit to left-centerfield. Granderson, who was playing toward right-center, closed the gap and caught the ball with a full-out dive.
"I felt he was a guy that was going to hit the ball to the right-center gap, so that's where I was shading him," Granderson said. "Sure enough, he ended up hitting the ball to the left-center gap. So I ended up having to go a lot further for it. Looked at Brett Gardner. He wasn't there yet. So I decided to lay out for it. Ended up holding on to the ball. The reason I was slow getting up, I ended up knocking the wind out of myself and I think I hit my head a little because I had a little headache afterward."
Granderson, the former Tiger, had helped do in the team that traded him to the Yankees. He saved Burnett, and maybe the Yankees' season.