Granderson seeking right fit at plate

Granderson seeking right fit at plate

DETROIT -- One of these days, Curtis Granderson is going to feel comfortable at the plate again, and then he'll be really dangerous. As it is, he's sharing his discomfort with the pitchers he's facing.

Defending American League Cy Young Award-winner Cliff Lee, who can probably relate, is up next in Sunday's rubber match against the Indians.

"It's just a weird spiral right now," Granderson said after his go-ahead two-run homer Saturday, "and I'm not sure what to make of it. I'm still just trying to even everything back out."

After an up-and-down April, the two-time American League triples champion has no three-baggers to date, and only one double. But his eight home runs lead the team, and left him only one off the AL lead entering Saturday night.

"I don't know what's going on there," Granderson said. "I don't know if I'm pleased with it or not, because some other numbers aren't very good. "

Granderson's batting .333 (9-for-27) against left-handed pitchers through Saturday, but more than a hundred points lower against righties. His longest streak of hitless games is two, yet the first two games of this series marked just the second bunch of consecutive multi-hit efforts.

As manager Jim Leyland said earlier in the week, Granderson's a hitter in search of consistency.

"[I'm] trying to find ways to get the ball to land and hit it where they're not as of right now," Granderson said.

The home runs are pretty good on that mark.

"I'll definitely take it," Granderson said, "but I'm still not in a groove each at-bat. It's just consistency. I'm trying to get it back, but in no panic by any means. It's May 2, so there's still plenty of baseball to go."

Granderson's career average in April is more than a dozen points under his overall clip, so that isn't exactly new. It's the summer months, June and July especially, when he heats up.

Saturday's home run was partly a matter of knowing his opponent after a few years as division rivals. Rafael Betancourt had held Granderson to two singles and a walk in eight previous at-bats, but with nothing hit hard until Granderson's long opposite-field single in their wild extra-inning game last July 30. But when Granderson stepped to the plate following Josh Anderson's pinch-hit single leading off the bottom of the eighth, he knew what to expect.

"You know exactly what you're going to get with fastballs," Granderson said, "but you just never could really get a good swing on them. ... The fact that I was able to get a good swing on [Betancourt] today, I'm still amazed."

Granderson's success against lefties this year isn't quite as amazing, despite his record. When Granderson has been off at the plate over his career, he has always used at-bats against left-handers as a way to get his timing back, forcing himself to watch the pitch longer and stay disciplined. Granderson's a respectable 8-for-28 (.286) lifetime against Lee.

"The aggressiveness I have towards the lefties, I've got to bring it back toward the righties," Granderson said. "And that's the thing I'm battling with a little bit right now, too."

Pitching matchup
DET: RHP Justin Verlander (1-2, 6.75 ERA)
Verlander has pitched well off and on this season, but his last start marked the first time good results and good performance matched up. Verlander's seven-plus scoreless innings against the Yankees saw him strike out nine while not walking a batter and scattering seven singles. Considering his struggles against New York over the past couple of years, it was an impressive performance, but Verlander's next start against Cleveland at Comerica Park will pit him against a division rival that has roughed him up over the years.

CLE: LHP Cliff Lee (1-3, 3.94 ERA)
Facing a potent Red Sox lineup on Monday, Lee was brilliant for eight innings in which he allowed just five hits and nothing more. He struck out five batters and induced two double plays, but all he had to show for his efforts was a no-decision. This was Lee truly in the form that made him an AL Cy Young winner last season, and his improvement is best demonstrated by the fact that his ERA, which was at 12.60 after an Opening Day debacle in Texas, is now under four. He says the key is mixing up his pitches earlier in the game and in the count, getting results out of his breaking ball.

Tidbits
Brandon Inge has reached base safely in each of Detroit's 23 games this season, the fifth-longest such streak by a Tigers player since records date back to 1954. If he gets on base safely Sunday, he'll tie Leon Roberts' 24-game streak from 1975. ... Saturday's attendance of 34,646 was the Tigers' second-largest of the season, trailing only the April 10 home opener. ... Inge and Armando Galarraga earned Tigers Player and Pitcher of the Month honors for April, as selected by writers on the beat. Inge hit .319 with seven home runs and 18 RBIs for the month, while Galarraga went 3-0 with a 1.85 ERA in four April starts. ... Inge is 12-for-30 (.400) lifetime off Lee, with two home runs and seven RBIs.

Tickets
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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
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•  Official game notes

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On radio
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Up next
• Monday: Twins (Francisco Liriano, 0-4, 6.04) at Tigers (Edwin Jackson, 1-1, 2.25), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Tuesday: Twins (Nick Blackburn, 2-1, 4.02) at Tigers (Rick Porcello, 1-3, 6.23), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Tigers (Armando Galarraga, 3-1, 3.07) at White Sox (Mark Buehrle, 4-0, 3.30), 8:11 p.m. ET

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