04/08/10 12:45 AM ET
Homering in 10th, Granderson the hero
New addition to rivalry lifts Yankees with drive off Papelbon
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
Upon his arrival in Boston, Granderson seemed almost disappointed that Red Sox fans greeted him with a lukewarm reception. They will know better next time -- one thing Granderson seems to be relishing is the opportunity to get big hits against his new club's biggest rival.
Granderson's home run off Jonathan Papelbon in the 10th inning was instrumental in lifting the Yankees to a 3-1 victory over the Red Sox on Wednesday at Fenway Park, helping to make a winner of fellow newcomer Chan Ho Park after the right-hander hurled three innings of scoreless, one-hit relief.
With the win, the Yankees have won 17 consecutive regular-season games in which the score was tied at the end of seven innings, surpassing the 1906 Giants for the longest such streak in baseball's modern era, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
"I'm just trying to help the team out," said Granderson, who also homered in his first Yankees at-bat on Sunday. "That's all I want to do, is just be another small piece to this puzzle. I'm trying to go ahead and help get this team back to continue winning ballgames, and I'm happy to get a chance to get a part of that."
Granderson is the only player with two homers off Papelbon, and his early success should earn him cheers in the Bronx when the Yankees head home early next week. Park's big outing helped erase some of the sting from his debut on Sunday and set the Bombers on their way to taking two of three in the season-opening series at Fenway.
"Those guys, everyone wants to talk about expectations," said Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. "You don't want them to try to do anything they haven't done. You just want them to continue playing the way they're playing. Those guys are going to help us through the course of the year."
Mark Teixeira added an RBI in the 10th inning, providing insurance for Mariano Rivera, who recorded his second save in as many appearances. Granderson said that it was comforting to let his team put the ball in Rivera's right hand, but even more assuring to know that he does not have to be the superstar in the lineup.
"There's a lot of great guys on this team that are going to do it," Granderson said. "Alex Rodriguez is our big bat, Derek Jeter is the legacy of this team. Mark Teixeira has had a great career doing his thing, both defensively and offensively. I come in as just another small piece, trying to help doing what I can."
In a much crisper effort than the first two games of the series, the Yankees were held silent for six innings by a sharp John Lackey, making his Red Sox debut with three-hit ball. But when Lackey got to 100 pitches and exited with a one-run lead, New York cracked through against the Boston bullpen.
Jorge Posada stroked a one-out double to the 379-foot marker in right-center field off lefty Scott Schoeneweis, and he was sent home on Nick Swisher's single to right field off Josh Bard, slapping the plate with a free hand after catcher Victor Martinez couldn't hold the throw.
Yankees starter Andy Pettitte turned in six strong innings in his season debut, but he had to first survive a scare on his first batter of the game.
With Pettitte covering first base on a ball that ticked to Robinson Cano, Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury struck Pettitte's right arm as he raced to the bag. The impact jarred Pettitte's glove loose, as the hurler tumbled to the ground but remained in the game.
"It didn't feel good, that's for sure," Pettitte said. "I thought he was going to be a little bit further down the line, because I'm not very fast. I was reaching out, thinking I was going to have to tag him, and he was a lot closer than I thought. I got a little whiplash or something in my neck, and it took me a couple of innings to regroup. I had a headache, but I was in survival mode there for the first couple of innings."
Pettitte scored a no-decision in his season debut, completing one-run, six-hit ball while issuing three walks and recording four strikeouts. His only blemish was a third-inning RBI single hit by David Ortiz -- the designated hitter's first hit of the young season.
That set the stage for Park, who was originally intended to pitch just one inning after battling illness on Tuesday but kept retiring the Red Sox so efficiently that he was sent back out for two more frames in the finale. Though Park surrendered two loud fly balls in the ninth, he came away unscathed with his first win as a Yankee.
"You've got to make your pitches," Park said. "That's the only thing I can control. If you control your location, you're going to make good pitches, and today I made a lot of good pitches."
Both benches were warned in the sixth inning by home-plate umpire Paul Schreiber, as Jeter was drilled near the left elbow by a Lackey offering to start the inning. Pettitte had hit Kevin Youkilis in the top of the helmet in the fifth, and Jeter exchanged a playful shove with Youkilis upon reaching first base.
"I thought he was joking around, and then [Lackey] hit me," Jeter said, laughing.
The Yankees did not win their first contest against the Red Sox until Aug. 6 last year, beginning the campaign 0-8 against Boston before splitting the 18 meetings. Manager Joe Girardi never doubted that the Yankees could beat the Red Sox even during the darkest days last year, but at least this time, he can leave Boston with something to smile about.
"We talk about winning series, and after losing a tough one the first game, we played three two-run games here that were tight the whole way," Girardi said. "It's good to win a series."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.