Big stage suits Granderson just fine

Big stage suits Granderson just fine

NEW YORK -- Curtis Granderson was awed by Yankee Stadium.

On the tube, that is.

"You see it on TV," the Tigers center fielder said of the historic building, "and it looks so massive and colossal. But then you get here, and you realize it's not as big as you think."

It's not the size of the buiding, but rather the stew of the crowd that inspires Granderson.

"They can get loud in a split second," he said.

They can get pretty quiet, too. And Granderson proved it.

When the 26-year-old connected for a one-out, RBI triple in the seventh inning of Thursday's 4-3 Tigers victory in Game 2 of the American League Division Series, he took away the wrath of the home crowd for good.

It should have come as no surprise that Granderson would deliver. He had three hits in Game 1 and the sacrifice fly that pulled the Tigers to within 3-2 in this one.

"It's fun, considering you watch the playoffs when you're young," Granderson said. "I'm just trying to help the team somehow, someway. It's starting to sink in, just how exciting it is."

The excitement surrounding Granderson is beginning to build. He put up a solid first full season as an everyday player, batting .260 with 19 homers and 68 RBIs this year.

Those who follow the AL Central have gotten a solid first impression of Granderson, but this series has afforded him the opportunity to make his name known on a national scale against a powerhouse opponent.

Granderson's taken advantage of it.

"He's had some great at-bats," manager Jim Leyland said.

And Granderson was quick to thank Leyland for the chance to get them.

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"He put us young guys out there throughout the season to be ready for something like this," Granderson said. "You've got to give him the credit."

A little luck with the shadows took some of the credit for Granderson's big hit. The shadows were moving in as the game progressed, affecting the sight lines of the batters at the plate. Granderson thought they would hinder him when he came up in the seventh against Mike Mussina.

"Once that shadow starts coming in, it can be a disadvantage as a hitter," he said. "I was surprised they weren't as bad as I thought they would be."

His view clear, Granderson fell behind, 0-2, in the count, with Marcus Thames at third after a single, a passed ball and sacrifice bunt. Mussina tossed Granderson a high fastball, and he deposited it into the left-center-field gap.

"With the runner in scoring position, [Mussina] is a guy that can throw offspeed at any time to anybody," Granderson said. "He threw me a pitch around the strike zone that I was able to put in play."

Thames came home, Granderson sped his way to third and the Yankee-rooting crowd went silent.

"Any way you can take the air out of this crowd is a plus," Granderson said. "Nothing was said, and we kind of had it in our favor."

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.