Published May 01, 2011
NEW YORK – Curtis Granderson began making subtle changes to his swing last season, trying to simplify his approach by taking the excess movement out of it.
The changes have sure taken root this season.
"It's really his willingness to make a change. The baseball ability has always been there," manager Joe Girardi said of Granderson, who has gone from a platoon-type player who struggled against left-handers to an everyday threat in the lineup.
"His willingness to make changes, and identifying that he needs to make changes, that says a lot about him," Girardi said.
Hitting coach Kevin Long has spent countless hours with Granderson, and at one point called the changes "a total reformation of his swing." And the reformation seems to be working, with Granderson now hitting .281 with eight homers and 18 RBIS.
"It's a satisfying feeling, but Curtis Granderson deserves the credit," Long said. "He understands his swing and what he needs to do to make it work."
Long was also pleased that Jorge Posada broke out of an 0-for-19 slump, while Francisco Cervelli added an RBI groundout in his first game back from the disabled list as the Yankees took the final two games against the Blue Jays to remain unbeaten (5-0-1) in home series.
Ivan Nova (2-2) pieced together his second straight positive outing for New York, allowing two runs on six hits over 5 1-3 innings. He worked around six hits and four walks.
Mariano Rivera worked a perfect ninth inning for his 10th save.
"It's the second good one I've had in a row and I'm feeling really good," Nova said.
Adam Lind hit a solo homer, Rajai Davis swiped three bases and David Cooper had his first two career hits for Toronto, but it still wasn't enough support for Jesse Litsch (2-2) against a team fast becoming his nemesis.
Litsch allowed five runs on six hits and two walks, losing for the fourth straight time against the Yankees. He is 1-5 with a 6.03 ERA in seven career starts against them.
"He threw the ball well enough to keep us in the game," Toronto manager John Farrell said.
Teixeira got to the burly right-hander early, driving a pitch over the right-field wall for his third first-inning homer of the season and seventh overall.
Lind answered with a homer in the second inning, and Toronto pulled ahead in the third, when Davis drew a leadoff walk, then played cat-and-mouse on the basepaths to swipe second and third. He eventually scored on Jose Bautista's groundout.
Nova settled down after that, and the Yankees gave him four more runs in the fifth.
Posada doubled to right field to snap his bedeviling slump, and Brett Gardner followed with a single to right, before Cervelli's run-scoring groundout tied the game.
Derek Jeter reached on a fielder's choice moments later, when he grounded to Yunel Escobar and the shortstop tried to cut down Gardner at third base. His throw was high and Gardner was able to slide in safe, putting runners on the corners for Granderson.
"I fell behind him and had to come back and after that, he hit a fastball down the middle over the fence," Litsch said. "It was over the middle and he got the best of me."
The ball looked like it might stay in the park, then just kept on carrying.
"Just one of those things, it was first and third and you're trying to get the runner home," Granderson said. "I was able to get one out."
The Blue Jays put a pair of runners on in the seventh, but reliever Boone Logan made a nifty behind-the-back grab on a sharp groundball by Lind and threw him out to end the threat.
Toronto stranded nine on base, at least one every inning except the first and last.
NOTES: Bautista left the game in the seventh inning with neck tightness. "He felt fine swinging the bat. It was more throwing and running," Farrell said. "It was more precautionary than anything to get him out of there." ... Yankees RHP Phil Hughes plans to see a specialist in St. Louis on Monday to determine whether he has thoracic outlet syndrome, a rare circulatory disorder that could be causing his pronounced drop in velocity. He's been on the DL with what the team has called a "dead arm."