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04/20/12 12:05 AM ET
Granderson homers thrice by fourth inning
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- It was a big Thursday night for Curtis Granderson.
The Yankees' center fielder became the first player to hit three homers in a single game at the latest edition of Yankee Stadium. It was also the first time Granderson had done it anywhere in the big leagues. He went 5-for-5 with four RBIs. And he said he received his first curtain call after the third homer, all three of which came in his first three at-bats, through the fourth inning.
"After rounding the bases, it finally hit me when I got back into the dugout," Granderson said after the Yankees held on to beat the Twins, 7-6. "CC [Sabathia] told me to go out there and acknowledge the crowd. I had never done that before. I'd seen a lot of guys do it. But actually getting a chance to do it yourself, it puts into perspective what you had accomplished up to that point."
The left-handed-hitting Granderson drilled solo homers in the first and fourth and a two-run shot in the second, all to right field. The first two came off Twins starter Anthony Swarzak, and the third off right-handed reliever Jeff Gray. He now has six homers for the season after hitting 41 last year.
"That's a nice porch for left-handed hitters out there, and he made full use of it," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "The guy can hit. He has a track record of hitting. I'm sure he'll tell you the same thing."
After his third homer of the night, Granderson had two more shots at becoming the first player in history to hit four during one game in the Bronx since the original Stadium opened in 1923. But as a crowd of 40,327 became restless in anticipation, it didn't happen. In his fourth at-bat, against Alex Burnett in the bottom of the sixth, Granderson worked the count full before lining a single into right-center.
And in the eighth against left-hander Glenn Perkins, Granderson beat out an infield single, thus becoming the first player in Yankees history to record five hits in a game that also included three homers.
The new Yankee Stadium opened in 2009, and Granderson said he was honored when told that he was the first player to hit three homers in that park.
"That's kind of neat," Granderson said. "I didn't know that, and I'm surprised, considering the guys who have already played here. Guys seem to put on a show every time they play here. I know I won't be the last guy who does it."
Granderson became the 20th Yankees player to hit three or more homers in a regular-season game. The Yankees have done it 28 times overall. Granderson's barrage was the first by a Yanks player since Alex Rodriguez hit a trio of homers on Aug. 14, 2010, at Kansas City. A-Rod was also the last to do it across 161st Street in the Bronx at the old Yankee Stadium, where he hit three homers against the Angels on April 26, 2005.
Lou Gehrig had four three-homer games and is the only Yankees player to hit four in a game, which he accomplished on July 3, 1932, at Philadelphia's old Shibe Park.
Aside from Gehrig, only four other times in American League history has a player hit four homers in one game. None have taken place in New York.
Three times in the World Series has a Yankees player hit three homers -- Babe Ruth twice and Reggie Jackson once. Jackson did it at the old Stadium on Oct. 18, 1977, on successive pitches in Game 6 of the World Series against the Dodgers. The Yanks clinched the World Series that night.
"Any time somebody hits three, it brings back those memories," said Jackson, now a consultant for the Yankees, present in the team's clubhouse after the game. "It's nice to see it happen here for one of our guys on a night where we win. I enjoyed it. The nicest part of it was that he had two more chances to hit four. It made me pay attention to it. I was pulling for him."