Curtis Granderson is the accidental slugger. At least that’s what he considers himself – still – after hitting his 20th homer of the season on Saturday and tying Toronto’s Jose Bautista for the American League lead.
“I don’t really consider it a pace by any means,” Granderson said of the start to his season, which has been historic even by Yankee standards. “I’m just trying to go up there and get good at-bats, and when given an opportunity, try to drive the baseball as best I can. But it’s never a situation where I’m trying to hit home runs. Sometimes they just happen to get out. That’s pretty much it.”
That’s what happened on Saturday, he said.
“It was two strikes and I was just trying to battle,” he said of the homer off starter Mitch Talbot in the sixth. “He had struck me out the at bat before and I was trying to put the ball in play, hopefully somewhere hard. The pitch happened to be up a little bit and I was able to put a good swing on it.”
Granderson now has 20 homers in 63 games. He had 19 in the Yankees’ first 61. Only Babe Ruth (seven times), Mickey Mantle (three times) and Roger Maris (twice) have hit more homers through the Yankees' first 61 games in a season.
Teixeira is right on Granderson’s trail as the two jostle for the team lead in homers. Teixeira said it is fun to have a little friendly competition (even if it means he gets drilled every now and then when Granderson goes yard and a pitcher takes out his frustrations on him).
So is this Mantle and Maris revisited, some 50 years later? Granderson is already conceding to Teixeira.
“He’s going to have it, I’ll say that right now,” Granderson said. “He’s going to have it. It’s just a matter of time before he finishes up with it.”
Granderson also said he doubts he’ll keep up with Bautista.
“Those are two different types of hitters than I am and it’s just a matter of time,” he said. "Keep an eye on those guys ... not me."