Curtis Granderson Quiets Pitching Concerns - NBC New York

Curtis Granderson Quiets Pitching Concerns

Three homers for Granderson while another starter struggles



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    Granderson was hot enough to hit homers with his eyes closed.

    Half an inning into Thursday night's Yankee game, it looked like we were going to get to extend our narrative a little bit longer.

    Yankees starters had an ERA over 10 in the first inning of games when Phil Hughes took the mound against the Twins, but there's a reason that enlightened observers don't think that stat can tell you everything. Hughes didn't allow an earned run in the first, but still continued the trend of Yankees pitchers being unprepared when they come out of the bullpen.

    Hughes allowed four runs, unearned because of an error by Eduardo Nunez but earned because Hughes could still have come up with outs after the miscue, and the grumbling about the state of the Yankee rotation started all over again. But it didn't wind up being the story of the night.

    The story wound up being Curtis Granderson, who bailed out Hughes by hitting three home runs in the first four innings to erase the Minnesota lead and spring the Yankees toward a 7-6 victory. Granderson had two shots to hit a fourth home run, no Yankee has ever done that before, but he had to settle for a pair of singles and a 5-for-5 night.

    One of the funniest sounds in sports is the kind of dismayed flutter that accompanies a hit other than a home run when a player is sitting on three in one game. You know you aren't supposed to be disappointed by a positive outcome, but you just can't resist being a little let down by a player's return to Earth.

    Granderson's outburst does more than just shift the spotlight from another bad Hughes outing. It provided a nice reminder that no matter how bad things look on the mound right now, it's still terribly early in a season that still sees the Yankees with a winning record.

    Coming into the game, Granderson had a batting average of .208 and a slugging percentage of .458. He left the game hitting .283 and slugging .679, a spike in numbers that can only happen at a moment when you haven't accumulated all that many stats and when the overall story of the season remains unwritten.

    That means there's still hope for Hughes, who actually settled down a bit and made it all the way to the sixth -- more of an accomplishment than it should be for Yankee pitchers thus far -- before giving up a two-run homer to Ryan Doumit that ended his evening.

    There might not be a tremendous amount of hope as the evidence of Hughes' shortcomings is approaching the need for a second volume, but the year's still young enough that none of this will likely end up mattering.

    Just don't try telling anyone that if the Yankees don't win the series in Fenway Park this weekend without expecting a lot of sputtered profanities spat back in your direction.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.