Curtis Granderson's Critical Sacrifice Bunt Is Encouraging Sign for Yankees

Jordan Schwartz@jordanharrisonSenior Writer IMay 23, 2011

NEW YORK - MAY 21: Curtis Granderson #14 of the New York Yankees is congratulated by teammate Mark Teixeira #25 after hitting a two-run homerun in the bottom of the sixth inning against the New York Mets on May 21, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Probably my favorite moment of the Yankees' season so far took place Sunday afternoon against the Mets.

With the score tied at three and nobody out in the bottom of the seventh, Curtis Granderson stepped to the plate with runners on first and second.

Despite ranking second in the Majors with 16 homers, including one earlier in the game, Granderson laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt, moving both runners into scoring position and stationing the go-ahead run at third base with less than two outs.

It's not a coincidence that this bit of small ball led to six more runs being scored in the frame and a 9-3 Subway Series-clinching victory.

With a .263 batting average, the chances of Granderson driving in the go-ahead run with a hit were slightly better than one in four. And even though he's averaging an impressive one home run every 11.9 plate appearances, the chances of the outfielder going deep to put the game out of reach were barely above eight percent. Then there's also the chance of Granderson killing the rally entirely by grounding into a double play, something he's already done five times this season.

So the smart move was to put two runners in scoring position—and one at third with a chance to score on an out—for the heart of the lineup.

This move put pressure on the Mets, who intentionally walked Mark Teixeira. I'm not sure how any Yankees fan could be unhappy with Alex Rodriguez batting with the bases loaded. A-Rod is a career .353 hitter with an incredible 22 grand slams in those situations, but he didn't need to hit the ball out of the park in order to give the Bombers the lead.

There are so many ways to score with a runner at third and less than two outs—sac fly, wild pitch, passed ball, error, groundout, balk and a 60-foot infield hit. Some may say Rodriguez's squibber was lucky, but that single would not have scored a run had Granderson not bunted.

What's most encouraging is that Granderson didn't lay down the bunt on his own—manager Joe Girardi called for it.

There are many—myself included—that believe the Yankees rely too heavily on hitting home runs. That's not to say smacking one over the fence is a bad thing, it's the sitting back and waiting for that to happen which is dangerous.

In the playoffs, when you face better pitching, it's far more difficult to hit home runs, and so you have to be able to score in other ways.

It's nice to see the Yankees are still capable of doing that.


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