Stats & Info: Curtis Granderson

Extra, Extra: Free baseball on Sunday

April, 20, 2014
Apr 20
This was a good day for extra-inning games in baseball, with two going 14 innings or longer and another finishing up in 12 frames. Let’s put the statistical microscope to each one.

New York Yankees 5, Tampa Bay Rays 1 (12)
Key moment: Dean Anna walks with bases loaded to force in go-ahead run in the 12th inning.

Anna entered the at-bat hitless in his last eight at-bats and is only 3 for 22 this season, but he held his swing on a 3-2 slider at the most critical point of the day.

Anna has seen 20 sliders this season. He hasn’t swung and missed at one yet.

Did You Know? The last time the Yankees beat the Rays on an extra-inning bases-loaded walk was in 2000 when Paul O’Neill drew a walk from Jim Morris, the pitcher immortalized in the movie “The Rookie.”

New York Mets 4, Atlanta Braves 3 (14)
Key moment: After an intentional walk to Eric Young Jr., Curtis Granderson benefits from a wild pitch that advanced runners to second and third, then hits a go-ahead sacrifice fly.

It was Granderson’s first walk-off RBI since the 2006 season. He’s hitless in his past 16 at bats and hitting .127 this season after an 0 for 6 on Sunday. That’s the fifth-lowest batting average in the majors and explains why Young was walked, even though David Wright (who had four hits in the game) was waiting to hit after Granderson.

Did You Know? It is the second latest the Mets have won a game by walk-off sacrifice fly. They had a 15-inning win against the San Diego Padres in 1983.

Milwaukee Brewers 3, Pittsburgh Pirates 2 (14)
Key moment: In a game that will be better remembered for a fight involving Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee continued its winning ways when Ryan Braun homered to tie the game in the ninth and Khris Davis homered to win the game in the 14th.

It marked the second time Braun hit a game-tying homer in the ninth inning or later, the first since Aug. 17, 2008, against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

It’s the second time in the last four seasons that a Brewers player hit a homer in the 14th inning or later. The other was by Prince Fielder in 2011.

Did You Know? This is the first time the Brewers beat the Pirates in a game lasting 14 innings or longer.

Yanks, Sabathia try to reverse trend vs Rays

April, 22, 2013

AP Photo/Brian BlancoCC Sabathia has struggled against the Rays since joining the Yankees, going 3-8 in 18 starts.
Tropicana Field has not been a very welcoming host to the New York Yankees and CC Sabathia, but tonight New York has a chance to start reversing that trend when they take on the Tampa Bay Rays (7 ET, ESPN and WatchESPN) in the first game of a three-game set.

New York went 2-7 at Tampa Bay last season and is 9-18 over the last three years at Tropicana Field. From 2007-09, the Yankees won 15 of the 27 games played in Florida against the Rays.

Pitching Matchup
CC Sabathia will take the mound tonight looking to reverse his fortune against the Rays on the road. The Yankees are just 6-12 in Sabathia’s last 18 starts against Tampa Bay, and just 1-7 in his eight starts at Tropicana Field since he joined the team in 2009!

Sabathia has gotten off to a good start this season, going 3-1 with a 2.57 ERA. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Sabathia has never won more than three games in April in his previous 12 career seasons. He won three in April for the Cleveland Indians in 2007 and three of the Yankees in both 2010 and 2012. For all other months combined, he’s won at least four games 20 times.

Opposing Sabathia will be Matt Moore, who is 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA in three starts this season. His fastball has been great this season (he averages 92 MPH on that pitch), but his offspeed pitches have been even better.

However, he’ll have to be careful throwing changeups to Robinson Cano and Vernon Wells, who are hitting .556 (ninth) and .500 (11th) against changeups, respectively, this season.

Offensive Comparison
So far in the early going, these two teams could not be further apart in terms of offensive production. Despite missing Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees offense keeps humming, and hitting home runs. New York ranks in the top five in baseball in slugging percentage (.467, 2nd), batting average (.273, 3rd), and OBP (.339, 5th).

With all the power the Yankees are missing – nine of their top 10 home run hitters from last season are not on the roster – power was expected to be at a premium. However, they have already hit 27 home runs so far this season, good for third-best in the majors.

As for the Rays, they are at the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to offense this season. Part of it is due to an incredibly low batting average on balls in play (.260, last in the majors).

Stat of the Game
Evan Longoria is 14-for-39 (.359) with three doubles and five home runs against Sabathia. That is Longoria’s most home runs against any pitcher and only Alfonso Soriano (six) has hit more home runs against Sabathia than Longoria (Jermaine Dye has also hit five home runs against Sabathia).

What led to Yankees early trip home?

October, 18, 2012

AP Photo/Paul SancyaAlex Rodriguez and his teammates will have an eventful offseason.

There will be much scrutiny of the most famous franchise in sports, whose season ended in ignominious fashion with elimination in the ALCS by the Detroit Tigers on Thursday night.

The Yankees never led in the series, only the second time in their history that they’ve been beaten in that fashion (the other was in the 1963 World Series) and had some of their weaknesses exposed in October.

An ugly ending
The Yankees were swept in a postseason series for the first time since the 1980 ALCS (against the Kansas City Royals), and swept in a best-of-7 for the first time since the 1976 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds.

The Yankees had played 36 straight postseason series without being swept. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that is the longest such streak in major-league history.

The Yankees .188 batting average in the 2012 postseason is the lowest in MLB postseason history by any team that played at least seven games.

They scored just 22 runs in nine games, for an average of 2.4 runs per game. That's the fourth-fewest runs per game in a single postseason by any team that played at least seven games.

How ugly was the final game?

The 8-1 loss matched the team’s worst in any postseason elimination game. They lost 9-2 to the Dodgers in Game 6 of the 1981 World Series and they lost 10-3 to the Red Sox in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS.

How did this happen?
The Yankees offense disappeared in the postseason. The combination of Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson, and Robinson Cano went a combined 14-for-125 with one home run.

Rodriguez was 3-for-25 with 12 strikeouts and was 0-for-18 against right-handed pitching this postseason. He missed on 20 of the 44 swings he took against righties.

Cano endured a 29 at-bat hitless drought, the worst in major-league history for a player in postseason play.

The Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers threw nearly two-thirds of their pitches to him on the outer-third of the strike zone, or off the outside corner. Of the 37 outs Cano made this postseason, 29 were on pitches to that area.

Granderson was hitless in 11 at-bats in the LCS, the third-worst 0-for by a Yankees player in a postseason series (surpassed by Mark Teixeira’s 0-for-14 in the 2010 ALCS and Joe Gordon’s 0-for-12 in the 1952 World Series). Opponents finished Granderson with offspeed stuff. He made 19 of his 27 outs this postseason on curves, sliders, and changeups.

Swisher was 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position, with the hit coming with the Yankees down by six runs and the four outs coming when the score of games was within two runs.

Swisher is 2-for-36 in his postseason career with runners in scoring position. His .056 batting average in those situations is the worst all-time.

The Yankees scored in only three of 39 innings (7.7 percent) in the ALCS. According to Elias, that is the lowest percentage of innings with a runs scored in a single postseason series since the 1966 Dodgers scored in 2 of 36 innings in their loss to the Orioles.

What’s next?
The historical precedent for the Yankees being swept in a postseason series is that they come back strong the next year.

In 1922, they were swept by the New York Giants (though one game ended tied) and bounced back by winning the World Series the next year.

In 1963, they were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers, but returned to the World Series in 1964, only to lose in seven games to the St. Louis Cardinals.

In 1976, they got swept by the Reds, but with the help of free-agent signee Reggie Jackson (who hit three home runs 35 years ago Thursday) beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in each of the next two World Series.

In 1980, they were swept in the LCS by the Kansas City Royals. They went a step further the next season, but blew a 2-0 lead and lost to the Dodgers in the World Series.

Offseason priorities
Look for the Yankees to make an attempt to get younger. The average age of the Yankees roster was 32 years old, oldest in the majors.

The Yankees will also face a decision on what to do about Rodriguez, whose OPS has declined in each of the last five seasons.

Rodriguez ranks 35th in position player Wins Above Replacement since the start of the 2009 season.

Pitch selection key for Hammel, Sabathia

October, 12, 2012

Dale Zanine/US PresswireJason Hammel has allowed only 2 hits in 17 at-bats that end with a slider against the Yankees in four games this season, including his Game 1 start.
The Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees play the third winner-take-all game in this year’s League Division Series on Friday.

The Orioles are 1-3 in winner-take-all postseason games, with their only win coming against the Texas Rangers in the AL wild-card game this year. The Yankees have lost three straight such games (their last win came in 2003 against the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS).

Let’s take a closer look at today’s pitching matchup.

Jason Hammel's key: Slider
For Hammel to help the Orioles to their second straight winner-take-all victory, he’ll need continued success with his slider.

In four games against the Yankees this season, Hammel has held them to two hits in 17 at-bats with the slider (0-for-5 in Game 1 of the ALDS).

CC Sabathia's key: Pitching inside to righties
The key for Sabathia to have success is pitching inside to righties.

In Game 1, Orioles righties were 1-for-10 in at-bats ending with a Sabathia pitch inside. For the season, Baltimore is 7-for-39 with 14 strikeouts against Sabathia in at-bats ending with a pitch inside.

In Game 1, 22 of Sabathia’s 28 offerings to righties inside were with the fastball and just three were sliders (he averaged 14 fastballs and 14 sliders in three regular season starts).

Struggling Stars
Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano struggled in Game 4, going a combined 1-for-15 with five strikeouts. For the series, they are 5-for-50 with 19 strikeouts. Of the 50 outs, 25 have come on pitches in the strike zone.

The Yankees aren’t the only team to have high-profile players struggling in this series. Baltimore’s Adam Jones hit .287 with 32 home runs in his breakout 2012 campaign, but he’s putting up one of the worst performances in a postseason in some time, hitting .105 with no walks in the series.

In fact, when you factor in the wild-card game against the Rangers, Jones is hitting .091 with a .178 OPS. It’s also clear that the Yankees can survive a lesser A-Rod, but Jones is crucial for the Orioles.

There can be no denying that Jones is seeing significantly more breaking balls in this postseason than he did during the regular season, and he’s chasing a lot more pitches overall than he did in the regular season.

Did you know?
After a historically close race for the division title (the Yankees and Orioles were separated by no more than 1.5 games from Sept. 3 through Oct. 2), the two teams are engaged in a similar battle inning by inning in the ALDS.

Through the first four games of the series, the score of the game has been either tied or within one run after 41 of the 43 innings played! Only a five-run ninth inning in Game 1 for the Yankees, which broke a 2-2 tie, and the Orioles scoring a sixth-inning run to take a 3-1 lead in Game 2 (which the Yankees immediately answered next half-inning with a run) have prevented the teams being within one run of each other after every inning of the series.

Elias says with the scoring margin no greater than one run in 41 of 43 innings in 95.3 percent of the innings played would stand as the highest in major league history. The “current” record is the 1970 NLCS between the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates (24 of 28 innings, .857 pct in three games). The record for a series of at least five games is the 1980 NLCS between the Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies (41 of 50 innings, .820 pct).

Granderson looks away, likes what he sees

September, 25, 2012

Curtis Granderson has had an up-and-down season, but now it’s one that puts him in an elite group.

In the New York Yankees win over the Minnesota Twins on Monday, Granderson became the sixth player in Yankees history with multiple 40-homer seasons, the fifth with consecutive seasons of 40 or more home runs, as noted in the graphic above.

How has Granderson gotten to 40 home runs with the Yankees this time around?

Playing in Yankee Stadium has benefited him considerably. But Granderson does have 17 home runs on the road this season, tied for ninth-most in the majors.

Granderson has a skill that separates him from a lot of other major-league hitters in that he’s able to turn on a pitch that’s on the outside part of the plate and hit it over the fence.

That was something that came into play on Monday, with his home run against Minnesota Twins starter Liam Hendriks.

His 16 home runs on pitches that were on the outer-third of the plate (or off the outside corner) are the second-most in the majors this season, trailing only Adam Dunn’s 18.

Dating back to last season, Granderson has 26 home runs on such pitches, by far the most in the major leagues. Jose Bautista ranks second with 28.

Granderson wasn't the only one looking away
This was a night of big home runs from big home-run hitters in playoff contention, and each of those players shared the distinction of hitting one on an outside pitch.

For Dunn, it was one that provided his first home run of the night, and gave him six seasons with at least 40 home runs (tied for second-most among active players).

It was the 26th time Dunn hit a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning or later since his debut in 2001. That’s more than anyone else in the majors.

Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton took the home run lead from Miguel Cabrera with his 43rd home run of the season, which also came on one of those outer-third offerings.

Hamilton didn’t hit a home run on an outer-third pitch until his four home-run game on May 8. He’s added a few more since then.

In fact, going back to that date, the leaders in outer-third homers are Dunn (16), Hamilton (14) and Granderson (12).

Right behind them is Toronto Blue Jays power hitter Edwin Encarnacion. He too homered on an outside pitch on Monday night.

What's behind the logjam in the AL East?

September, 3, 2012

As the graphic atop this article shows, the AL East race has tightened up dramatically, with the New York Yankees lead being trimmed to one game over the Orioles and 2 games over the Rays after Monday afternoon’s contests.

Let’s take a closer look at a key for each team over the past few weeks.

Rays rolling
Rays starter James Shields gave Tampa Bay another solid performance, allowing three runs in eight innings in their win over the Yankees.

Shields is in the midst of a nine-start run, the results of which can be seen in the chart on the right.

Shields had gotten away from throwing his fastball often early in the season, but has upped the rate by which he’s thrown it over his last nine starts by nearly 50 percent.

Shields has also gotten better defensive support recently, something that the Rays had trouble providing earlier this season.

In his last seven starts, opponents have hit 63 ground balls against him. The Rays have gotten at least one out on 56 of them (89 percent), well above the major-league average rate of 75 percent.

Orioles surging
After a hiccup in Saturday’s loss to the Yankees, the Orioles bullpen, which has been immensely valuable, got back on track the last two days.

Baltimore’s relievers have allowed one run in 8 2/3 innings in wins over the Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays.

That dropped the Orioles bullpen ERA to 3.02 this season. Jim Johnson and Pedro Strop have been especially good at protecting leads, as they did with a scoreless inning apiece on Monday.

The other key to the second half for the Orioles has been Nick Markakis, who continued a stellar second half with an RBI double in Monday’s win.

There has been a lot of attention on how much better the Rays offense has been since Evan Longoria returned, but check out the improvement of the Orioles’ hitters since Markakis returned from injury at the All-Star Break.

He’s led that with a .343 batting average and .902 OPS, which rank seventh-best and 14th-best among AL hitters since the All-Star Break.

Yankees struggling
The Yankees are 19-24 since July 19. They’ve lost nine of their their last 13 games, matching their worst 13-game stretch of the season.

Who has been slumping on offense since July 19?

Curtis Granderson, who struck out to end Monday’s game, has seen his OPS drop 200 points (it was .868, but is .668 since), Raul Ibanez’s OPS has slipped 101 points, and Andruw Jones’ has plummeted from .851 to .428.

Robinson Cano, who suffered an injury late in Monday’s game, also has gone through a couple of slumps. His most recent is a 4-for-25 drought.

The Yankees did not homer on Monday, making them 4-20 when not homering this season. Those four wins are the fewest for any team in the majors in homerless games.

The other issue for the Yankees is that since August 1, their only reliable relievers have been David Robertson and Rafael Soriano. The two of them have a 2.31 ERA and 0.92 WHIP in that span. The other Yankees relievers have a 5.18 ERA and 1.66 WHIP.

Robertson is not as near-perfect as he was last season. His Batting Average on Balls in Play has jumped from .291 to .315, as a few extra hits have snuck through, including Thursday’s game-winner.

What’s left
The graphic on the right shows the remaining schedules for each of the three teams. The Rays have the toughest schedule remaining, but have the best balance of home and road games.

The Elias Sports Bureau notes that the Yankees have never blown a division/league lead of more than 6 games. The largest blown lead was six games in 1933.

Justin Havens, Katie Sharp, and Mark Simon contributed research to this article

Nova shining behind Yankees' run support

July, 8, 2012
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesAmong active pitchers with 35 career decisions, Ivan Nova has the best win percentage.

Ivan Nova takes the mound Sunday night for the New York Yankees against the Boston Red Sox (ESPN, 8 ET), looking to improve on an already impressive road record (12-1 with a 3.24 ERA in his past 17 road starts). What's more, Nova is 26-7 through the first 50 starts of his career, the third best win percentage in MLB history (and second best since 1900).

Oddly enough, the all-time series between the Red Sox and Yankees at Fenway Park is tied 460-460-4.

Yankees notes

Entering Sunday, the Yankees score 49.7 percent of their runs via home runs, the most in the majors. Since 2011, New York's offense has also been providing ample run support when Nova starts, tallying 5.67 runs per start.

That ranks third in baseball in that span, behind only Derek Holland and Colby Lewis (min. 40 starts). Overall, however, the Yankees are averaging 4.82 runs per game which would be their lowest since the 1992 season (4.52).

New York has struggled in the clutch this year, batting only .231 with RISP and .190 with the bases loaded. Compare that to the past two seasons, when Yankees batters posted a .337 average in 2011 and a .344 average in 2010 with the bases full.

Red Sox notes

Boston, meanwhile, has been suffering from the injury bug. The Red Sox have had 20 different players hit the DL this season, six more than any other AL team. Of those 20, 11 are former All-Stars.

For Jon Lester, the challenge Sunday night will be getting through the third and fourth innings. He’s allowed 28 earned runs in those two innings and 24 in all other innings combined. He's also struggled in his second time through the order, allowing a .293 average. Lester is using his fastball less often the second time facing batters; he's tossing his heater 63 percent of the time in the first plate appearance, but just 51 percent the next time around the order.

The matchup to watch will be Derek Jeter against Lester. Jeter is 17-for-49 (.347 BA) against Lester, the most hits Lester has given up to a batter. Curtis Granderson, on the other hand, has 10 strikeouts in 21 at-bats against Lester.

Kuroda's slider results on upswing

June, 25, 2012
The New York Yankees have been baseball’s hottest team over the past month, going a league-best 22-7 since May 22. The run has been fueled by a pitching staff that has posted a league-low 2.95 ERA over that span.

Tonight they welcome to the Bronx the Cleveland Indians, who are coming off a series loss against the Houston Astros during which they scored just four runs combined in the three games.

The Indians have fallen a half-game back in the AL Central and are now faced with winning at a stadium where they are just 6-29 since 2002. That’s the Indians worst road record against any team they’ve played at least 10 road games against during that span.

However, not all hope for a victory is lost among fans in Cleveland. The Indians lead the majors in wins (32) and win percentage (.627) against right-handed starting pitchers this season, and tonight will be facing the Japanese righty Hiroki Kuroda.

Hiroki Kuroda Stats To Watch
Kuroda will be making his 15th start of the season for the Yankees, and after struggling to find consistency in his first nine starts, he has turned things around in his last five outings.

His slider has shown a huge improvement, as opponents are hitting just .184 in at-bats ending in the pitch over his last five starts, compared to a .254 average in his first nine outings.

In his last start against the Atlanta Braves last week, he netted a season-high eight swings-and-misses on his slider while allowing just one hit in 10 at-bats ending in the pitch.

Josh Tomlin Stats To Watch
Tomlin led the Indians in wins, WHIP, and opponent batting average through his first 10 starts of last year, but has failed to replicate those numbers in 2012. He brings a dismal 5.12 ERA and 1.14 WHIP into tonight’s game, after going 6-2 with a 2.74 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in his first 10 starts of 2011.

Known for his incredible control, Tomlin’s walk rate has doubled from a league-leading 1.1 walks per nine innings last year to a 2.1 rate in 2012. Tomlin has also struggled to get righties out this year. They are hitting .319 against him in 2012 after he held them to a .226 average last season.

Happy To See You
Derek Jeter is a career .340 hitter against the Indians, the highest batting average against the team among active players (min. 175 at-bats). Mark Teixeira has reached base safely in 27 of his last 30 games against the Indians and owns a .436 OBP vs the Indians, his highest vs any AL team.

A trio of Yankees -- Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano -- have really enjoyed facing the Indians at the new Yankee Stadium.

Each is hitting better than .400, with Cano leading the way at .489. Granderson has 12 hits, including five doubles, in 29 at-bats (.414). A-Rod has a .923 slugging percentage in 26 at-bats, with seven of his 11 hits going for extra bases.

AP Photo/Jae C HongAlbert Pujols has five home runs and 10 RBI during the Angels eight-game win streak.
(The Los Angeles Angels host the New York Yankees, Wednesday at 10:05 ET on ESPN.)

There are many reasons we might see a number of home runs Wednesday in Anaheim.

Ivan Nova and Ervin Santana have combined to allow 25 HR this season, and both rank in the top five in the American League in HR allowed per nine innings.

Four Yankees have hit four HR off Santana: Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano. And, Jeter’s career 1.179 OPS against Santana is the highest of his career against any pitcher he has faced (minimum 50 plate appearances).

For the Angels, recent history says Albert Pujols will go deep. He has hit a home run on May 30 in each of the last five seasons. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last player to hit a home run in five-or-more consecutive years on a specific date was Lance Berkman, who hit a home run on Sept. 21 in seven straight seasons, 2001-2007.

In 10 games played on this date, Pujols has hit 10 home runs with 17 RBI and has a batting average of .576 (19-33).

According to Elias, the record for most home runs on a single date is 12, shared by Barry Bonds (Aug. 18), Jimmie Foxx (June 8) and Gil Hodges (May 30).

Pujols played his 50th game of the season on Tuesday, and has set or matched career lows through 50 games in most statistical categories (see chart).

Whether it’s coincidence or not, ever since Mickey Hatcher was fired as Angels hitting coach after May 15, Pujols has bounced back. With Hatcher, Pujols was hitting .212 with one home run and a .536 OPS. Since Hatcher’s firing, Pujols has hit .304 with seven HR and an OPS over 1.000

With Pujols rounding into form, the Angels have won a season-high eight straight games and are above .500 for the first time since Opening Day. The Angels have not had a nine-game win streak since 2005, and are looking for their first home sweep of the Yankees since July 2009.

US Presswire/ESPN Stats & InfoDuring his 16-game hit streak, Josh Hamilton was 25-for-59 with 10 home runs.
Baseball’s 16th season of interleague play is under way with celebrations of natural rivalries -- Cubs against White Sox, Orioles against Nationals, A’s against Giants among others -- and in one instance a chance for National League fans to get a load of Josh Hamilton.

The Texas Rangers will travel down I-45 and give Houston Astros fans a look at baseball’s hottest hitter.

Hamilton already has the second-highest career batting average in interleague games, but also comes into this series on a historic tear.

Hamilton’s 16-game hit streak came to an end on Thursday when his day off ended early against Oakland. He pinch-hit and ended up 0-for-2 in a loss to the Athletics, but Hamilton still leads the American League in home runs, RBIs and batting average.

Hamilton’s hitting streak included a week, from May 7-13, that might have been as impressive as any in history.

He hit .467 with nine home runs and 18 RBI and an OPS of 1.963. His week included the 16th four-home run game in baseball history, and his nine home runs for the week matched the combined total hit that week by last season’s nine leading home run hitters: Jose Bautista 3, Curtis Granderson 2, Giancarlo Stanton 2, Dan Uggla 1 and Prince Fielder 1.

Texas and Houston meet each season in home-and-home series in interleague play (competing for the Silver Boot trophy), so the Astros have experienced Hamilton’s bat. Over the past three seasons against Houston pitching, Hamilton is 26-for-65 (.400) with four home runs and 13 RBI.
(The New York Yankees host the Tampa Bay Rays, Wednesday at 7 ET on ESPN)

Curtis Granderson has reached base in 28 straight games, which is the longest active streak in baseball.

However, if the Tampa Bay Rays’ Jeff Niemann pitches against the Yankees -- and Granderson -- like he has in the past, then Granderson’s streak could come to an end Wednesday night in Yankee Stadium.

In five starts against the Yankees, Niemann is 3-0 with a 3.10 ERA. He hasn’t allowed more than four earned runs in any of those five starts.

Current members of the Yankees are a combined 21-94 (.223) against Niemann. Granderson is 1-14 (.071) against Niemann, matching his lowest batting average against an American League pitcher (minimum 15 plate appearances.)

This season, Niemann has yet to allow more than three earned runs in any of his five starts; however, he has also failed to complete six innings in any start.

Niemann is having a hard time getting through the lineup the third time around. He’s averaged less than 23 batters faced per start (the league average for a starting pitcher is 25.3), and hasn’t faced more than 25 in a start.

Conversely, the Yankees have jumped on opponents early. They have scored 24 first-inning runs, matching the most they have scored in an inning this season. (They have also scored 24 runs in the seventh inning.)

Opponents are hitting .400 this season against Niemann the third time through the order, compared to .214 the first time and .132 the second time through the order.

Niemann has won his last two starts at Yankee Stadium, but this season on the road he’s winless (0-3). In those three games the Rays have provided a total of four runs of support.

One Yankee who has hit Niemann well is Derek Jeter, who is 6-13 with two doubles.

Only Josh Hamilton (.406) and Matt Kemp (.404) have a higher average this season than Jeter’s .392. He’s also hitting .500 in the first inning (14-28, 2 2B, 2 HR, 2 K), that’s the highest average among hitters with at least 25 first-inning plate appearances.

Jeter is hitting to the opposite field with authority, and leads the league in that category as well with 19 hits the other way.

Hamilton hammers way into record book

May, 8, 2012
ESPN Stats & InformationEntering Tuesday's game, all 10 of Josh Hamilton's home runs this season were on pitches from the middle of the plate in. Against the Orioles, all four of his record-tying homers came on pitches on the outer third or away.
Josh Hamilton became the 16th player in major-league history to hit four home runs in a game as the Texas Rangers beat the Baltimore Orioles 10-3.

The first quarter of the 2012 MLB season has been a good one for historians, with Hamilton’s four-homer game and Philip Humber’s perfect game. This is the first year in MLB history when there has been a perfect game and four-homer game in the season.

Hamilton became the first American League player to go 5-for-5 with four home runs. His 18 total bases are an AL record, surpassing the previous mark of 16 that was done eight times. He fell one base short of Shawn Green’s major-league record of 19 during his four-homer game in 2002.

Hamilton and Matt Kemp each have at least 12 home runs within their team’s first 30 games. It is the first time since 2006 that at least two players did that in the same season. In the 13 seasons from 1994 to 2006, it happened in nine seasons. Prior to that, it hadn’t happened since 1971, when Hank Aaron and Willie Stargell both pulled it off.

With 14 home runs in the Rangers' first 30 games, Hamilton broke the franchise record for homers at this point in the season. Frank Howard hit 12 home runs in the first 30 games in 1968, when the franchise was still the Washington Senators. Since the franchise moved to Texas in 1972, no other player had hit more than 11 homers in the team’s first 30 games.

Hamilton is already more than halfway to his total of 25 home runs from last season. His third-inning home run was his first of the season to the opposite field. He had 13 opposite-field home runs over the previous three seasons.

All four of Hamilton’s homers came with Elvis Andrus on base, netting a total of eight RBI for the game. That is tied for the third-most RBI in a four-homer game, trailing Mark Whiten’s 12 in 1993 and Gil Hodges’ nine in 1950.

It is often said that baseball's glamor position is centerfield, and the best hitters bat third in the order. During the live-ball era (since 1920), only two players have been 4-for-4 or better with three homers and four extra-base hits while playing center and batting third. Hamilton joins Ty Cobb, who went 6-for-6 with three home runs and a double on May 5, 1925.

Around the diamond
• Before he left the game with left hamstring tightness, Will Middlebrooks became the second player since 1900 with an extra-base hit in each of his first five career games. Elias reports that Enos Slaughter also had a five-game streak to start his career in 1938.

• Andrew McCutchen hit his first home run of the season in his 95th at-bat. Last season he had five home runs at the same point in the season.

• Curtis Granderson has reached base in 28 consecutive games, the longest streak in the majors this season. He extended the streak today against James Shields. Granderson entered the game 3-for-46 against Shields; according to Elias, that .065 average was the lowest career mark in any batter-pitcher matchup between active players (minimum 35 at-bats).

Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesMatt Kemp is the fifth player in history to hit at least 12 home runs before May 1.

ESPN's Home Run Tracker analyzes video of each home run hit this season and as far back as 2006. Each month, the tracker will detail the best and worst home runs, as well as some other interesting statistics pertaining to the long ball. Below are the notable home runs for the month of April.

Power Surge: (Player with highest combined HR distance)
2011 Winner: Jose Bautista
March/April Winner: Matt Kemp
Kemp is off to a torrid start, with 12 home runs that have traveled a true distance of 4,802 feet. That’s a longer true distances than the Padres, who have hit 11 home runs, and the Cubs, who have hit the fewest HR (9) entering May. Kemp's 12 home runs are two shy of the record set by Albert Pujols in 2006 and Alex Rodriguez in 2007 for the most home runs by April 30.

No Doubter (Longest true distance)
2011 Winner: Prince Fielder (486 feet)
March/April Winner: Travis Hafner (481 feet)
On April 15, Cleveland’s DH hit a home run of the Royals Luis Mendoza, the longest HR of his career. Hafner’s previous long was 454 feet in 2006. The 481-foot shot is the longest HR by an Indian since the beginning of our database (2006).

Wall-Scraper (Shortest true distance)
2011 Winner: Asdrubal Cabrera (320 feet)
March/April Winner: B.J. Upton (323 feet)
On April 24, Upton hit a home run off Ervin Santana that hit off the left-field foul pole. Chris Iannetta hit a 324-foot HR off Phil Hughes, the only other player this season to hit a home run less than 345 feet.

Moonshot: (Highest Apex - maximum vertical height a ball reaches)
2011 Winner: Mark Reynolds (161 feet)
March/April Winner: Todd Helton (162 feet)
On April 14, Helton hit a walk-off home run off J.J. Putz. The ball hung in the air for 6.92 seconds, the highest apex HR since Alex Rodriguez reached 169 feet on Sept 11, 2009.

Liner: (Lowest Apex)
2011 Winner: Carlos Peguero (39 feet, twice)
March/April Winners: Curtis Granderson/Luke Scott (49 feet)
Ervin Santana, who gave up the shortest HR of the month, also gave up the lowest apex. On April 13, Santana served up a 349-foot solo shot to Granderson that had an apex of 49 feet. Scott matched Granderson with a 387-foot laser off Mark Lowe, which also never got higher than 49 feet off the ground.

Mother Nature: (Most climate-impacted HR)
2011 Winner: Luke Scott
March/April Winner: Miguel Cabrera
Even the best need help from time to time. On April 26, Cabrera hit a 382-foot home run off Hector Noesi, but a 15 mph wind gust helped the ball carry an extra 62 feet. Without the wind, it would have been a routine fly out.

Server: (Pitcher who allowed the greatest cumulative distance)
2011 Winner: Bronson Arroyo
March/April Winner: Ervin Santana
In addition to giving up the shortest and the lowest apex home runs, Santana’s 10 home runs allowed traveled a total distance of 3,844 feet.

Launching Pad: (Greatest cumulative distance in one stadium)
2011 Winner: Rangers Ballpark in Arlington
March/April Winner: Rogers Centre
Thirty-eight HR have been hit in Rogers Centre thus far, with a total distance of 15,072 feet. Chase Field in Arizona finished second, totaling 12,803 feet. Conversely, only six HR were hit at AT&T Park in April.
Stats & Info insights into this morning's top sports stories

1. FORGET REGULATION: The Phoenix Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks have offered extra playoff hockey every time they’ve met this series. FROM ELIAS: It’s just the second playoff series in NHL history where each of the first four games went to OT. That also means history for the Blackhawks – they’ve now gone to overtime in six straight playoff games dating back to last season, an NHL record.

Dwight Howard
2. HOWARD OUT: Dwight Howard will miss the rest of the season, the playoffs and the Olympics this summer as he plans to undergo back surgery. Howard had been incredibly durable over the course of his career, but this year is the exception. He’s already missed eight games this season, one more than he missed in his first seven seasons combined. In his first four seasons, he didn’t miss a game.

3. HEAT CATCH FIRE: The Chicago Bulls were once against without Derrick Rose, and the Miami Heat took advantage with an 11-point win. The win pulled the Heat to within just a game and a half of the Bulls for the top spot in the East. And that could be crucial since all four meetings this season between the teams were won by the home team. As for the Bulls, they’re 17-9 without Rose this season. But against teams .500 or better, they are just 3-4 with three of those losses coming by double figures.

Curtis Granderson
4. THE GRANDY MAN CAN: Curtis Granderson accomplished something that had never been done in New York Yankees history. He had five hits including three home runs. Granderson just missed joining an elite club – Lou Gehrig is the only player to hit four home runs in a game with the Yankees.

5. TROUBLE IN THE WINDY CITY: Blustery times in the Windy City. The Blackhawks loss puts them on the brink of elimination from the playoffs. The Bulls lost to the Heat, failed to clinch the East’s top seed and saw their lead for the top spot shrink to a game and a half. The Cubs and White Sox both lost on Thursday, making Chicago’s baseball teams a combined 9-16 this season.

Tigers continue Game 3 success

October, 12, 2011
The Detroit Tigers won for the seventh time in their last nine postseason home games to cut their ALCS deficit against the Texas Rangers to two games to one.

The Tigers tied a team single-game postseason record with three home runs. They hadn’t hit that many home runs in a postseason game since Game 5 of the 1984 World Series. Victor Martinez (fourth career postseason homer), Jhonny Peralta (third career LCS home run) and Miguel Cabrera (sixth career postseason home run) all found the seats for the home team.

The Tigers have won eight of their last nine Game 3s, and are 5-0 all-time in Game 3 of the ALCS. They went on to win two of the previous four series, but they lost both series when they won Game 3 after losing the first two games of the series.

Colby Lewis entered the game with a 4-0 record in five postseason starts and hadn’t allowed more than two runs in a game. The Tigers handed Lewis his first postseason loss, as he allowed a postseason career high in runs (4) and hits (8).

Austin Jackson entered the game with three hits in 25 postseason at-bats. He went 3-for-5, matching the most by a Tigers centerfielder in a postseason game. The others were Hall of Famer Sam Crawford (twice), Doc Cramer (twice) and Curtis Granderson.

Yorvit Torrealba had just three at-bats in the Rangers first six postseason games, but replaced Mike Napoli behind the plate Tuesday. He became the first catcher to get three hits without recording an out in a postseason game since A.J. Pierzynski in 2005.

Doug Fister went 7⅓ innings to pick up his second win of the postseason. That’s an average day at the park for Fister. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he pitched at least seven innings and allowed two-or-fewer runs in seven of the 10 starts he made for the Tigers during the regular season after making his debut with the team on August 3rd.

The Tigers still have a tough road to climb. Only 13 of 71 teams that lost the first two games in a best-of-seven series have come back to win the series.