NEW YORK -- Through the home runs and RBIs, the remarkable success against left-handers and everything in between, Curtis Granderson has insisted that nothing has changed in his approach from last season to this one.
When Yankees manager Joe Girardi called for Granderson to bunt with two runners on and no outs in the seventh inning on Sunday, all of the center fielder's assertions were put to the test.
Granderson laid one down on left-hander Tim Byrdak's first pitch, advancing the runners to second and third. Four hits and six runs followed in the Yankees' 9-3 win over the Mets, and Granderson -- who hit his second home run in as many games in the first inning -- had passed the test.
"My home run didn't really do anything -- we were losing after that point," Granderson said. "So to go ahead and get runners in scoring position, to allow guys to continue to move on and advance and come across the plate is definitely a big thing and the reason why you want to get runs across the board any way you can."
Granderson said he had no problem bunting, citing his role in the No. 2 spot as a prime reason for the call. It is something he worked on in Spring Training and continues to do as he begins batting practice every day.
But Granderson leads the Yankees this season with 16 home runs and 34 RBIs. Eight of those home runs have come off lefties, making the bunt against the southpaw Byrdak -- who had just come in to face the lefty-hitting Granderson -- all the more surprising.
"His job at that point is to get lefties out, and he gets paid a good amount of money to do it," Granderson said of Byrdak. "There's a good chance that odds are in his favor to be successful in that situation. Here's a potential rally start. Let's not do anything -- I ground into a double-play ball and guys don't move -- let's do it and take advantage of it."
Granderson's power off lefties a byproduct
NEW YORK -- It took Curtis Granderson 107 games to hit 15 home runs in 2010, his first year with the Yankees. His 15th homer of this season -- a sixth-inning shot on Saturday off Chris Capuano -- came in his 166th at-bat. On Sunday, Granderson added No. 16 in his first at-bat, going deep to right field off right-hander Mike Pelfrey.
But what's made Granderson's tear through 44 games all the more impressive is the left-handed hitter's eight long balls off southpaws. Granderson has faced lefties just 47 times, and no other left-handed batter has more than three home runs off lefties this season.
"It's pretty much been the same thing I've mentioned from before, from working with [hitting coach] Kevin Long and the ability for him to throw left-handed BP day in, day out, to get a chance to see that, continue to try to battle," Granderson said.
Granderson entered this season with just 20 home runs off left-handed pitchers for his career. His season high was five, in 2008.
The center fielder's surge has forced manager Joe Girardi's hand, as the skipper has not been able to give his center fielder regular rest. Granderson has started every game but one, an April 7 win against Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano. Granderson had just one home run to that point, an Opening Day shot off Tigers lefty Phil Coke.
- 131 wins
- 121 wins
The 30-year-old Granderson has had trouble himself explaining his hot start to 2011.
"I still feel like it's a constant battle," Granderson said. "And as for the home run thing, again, that was never one of the reasons why we made the change. I didn't try to add any power, increase power numbers or anything like that. That was just something that, if it came, great. If it didn't, that's not the reason why we were doing it.
"I think to this point, they've just happened to be getting out a little bit earlier than they have in the past. There's really no rhyme or reason to what's going on."
Jeter continues to torment Mets
NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter does not think he gains something extra from the atmosphere of the Subway Series. His numbers suggest otherwise.
Jeter's two-run single on Sunday tied the game and ignited an eight-run seventh inning in the Yankees' 9-3 win over the Mets. The shortstop finished 2-for-5 and scored a run, capping a 5-for-12 series against the Bronx Bombers' crosstown rival.
In 78 career games against the Mets, Jeter is hitting .381, his highest mark against teams he has faced at least 10 times. Against only the Pirates (.417 in nine games) and Rockies (.412 in eight games) has Jeter fared better. He was also named Most Valuable Player of the 2000 World Series after the Yankees' five-game series win over the Mets.
The Yankees' captain entered this weekend's series hitting .257 on the season. He leaves it batting .268.
"To be quite honest with you, I don't think about it too much," Jeter said of his Subway Series success. "You enjoy playing in it because it's fun for us, because, like I said, there's a lot of electricity in the stands, whether it's here or over at Citi Field. So, yeah, we enjoy playing in it, but I don't look that deep into it."
Jeter not preoccupied with chasing 3,000
NEW YORK -- Forty-seven hits and three months ago in Tampa, Fla., Derek Jeter said he planned to enjoy his chase toward the 3,000-hit mark this season.
A 2-for-4 night in the Yankees' 7-3 win over the Mets on Saturday moved Jeter just 27 hits away from the plateau, but the shortstop is still not thinking about joining the 27-man club just yet.
"No, no," said Jeter, whose ninth-inning steal on Saturday gave him 326 for his career, tying him with Rickey Henderson's franchise career mark. "We're trying to win games. It's not on my mind right now."
Manager Joe Girardi is not surprised by his captain's demeanor but is hoping that will change as history approaches.
"From our standpoint, I think everyone's excited for him for what he's about to accomplish," Girardi said. "From his standpoint, I'm sure he's trying to put it out of his mind -- that's what he does when it comes to major accomplishments. But I hope he really enjoys it because of what he's done and what he's meant to this organization."
Jeter said that being one or two hits shy qualifies as "close" to the milestone, and he is trying to keep the same mindset until he is a game or two away.
"It's still a long ways away," Jeter said. "I'm really not thinking about it now. It's just more of staying comfortable. I think that's the biggest thing -- just stay comfortable. The hits will come, and then you get a little closer, yeah. But nah, it's still a long ways away."
When the mark is in sight, Girardi said, he would prefer a late burst from Jeter to ease the anticipation.
"Three-thousand hits, you don't see it every day, and I hope when he gets around 2,998, he gets those two hits that day so he doesn't have to talk about it, so we don't all have to talk about it," the skipper said. "I hope it happens suddenly.
"Sometimes when you see those milestones like that, they can take a few days and players don't necessarily want to talk about it. And we know Derek doesn't want to talk about himself. We've known that since 1996, so hopefully it happens really quickly."
Slump growing, Swisher gets a breather
NEW YORK -- Hitless in the Subway Series thus far, Nick Swisher was out of the Yankees' starting lineup on Sunday against the Mets.
Swisher went 0-for-6 in the Yankees' first two games of the weekend and was replaced by Chris Dickerson in right field for the series finale.
Batting .214 with two home runs and 19 RBIs, Swisher has six hits in his last 29 at-bats.
Swisher attempted a diving catch on Friday that left him with a gash on his right arm, which may be one reason that manager Joe Girardi said he was waiting to post a lineup until his late-arriving team made it to the Bronx.
"It's been a tough stretch," Girardi said before the lineup was posted. "I'm just making sure some people are OK. I don't think there are any issues, but I want to make sure."
Francisco Cervelli got the nod behind the plate for the Yankees, taking over for Russell Martin to catch a day game after a night game. Adding Dickerson and Cervelli to the lineup bumped designated hitter Jorge Posada to the No. 6 slot, with Brett Gardner batting seventh.
Matt Fortuna is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @bryanhoch. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.