Curtis Granderson, Friday night’s underrated hero
If not for Curtis Granderson, who knows where the Mets would standing on Saturday morning.
They could very well had been staring down the gauntlet of Zack Greinke in an 0-1 hole in their best-of-five Division Series if not for their leadoff hitter.
Granderson had a very underrated performance and significance in Friday night’s win over the Dodgers, which identifies with his underrated performance in 2015 as a whole.
He drew two hits against Clayton Kershaw in his second and third at-bats, which is significant on it’s own considering he had just 23 hits in 126 at-bats against southpaws all year long, good for a .558 OPS which was the seventh worst mark in all of baseball among qualified hitters.
But it was his fourth plate appearance against Kershaw which may have been the difference in this game.
He worked a seven-pitch walk to load the bases with two outs, battling back from a 1-2 hole for Kershaw’s third walk of the inning to end the left-handers night.
That not only extended the inning and gave David Wright the opportunity to come up, but it allowed Wright to deliver his big two-run single to extend the lead to 3-0.
“There were some really unbelievable at-bats before David got up there,” Daniel Murphy said.
Indeed there were. And Granderson had four really outstanding plate appearances and came through in three of them in unlikely fashion, considering his history against left-handers this season.
In fact, Granderson was the only Mets starter to not strikeout against Kershaw, who struck out 11 Mets in 6 2/3 innings despite four walks, three of which came in the seventh inning.
Granderson is truly a unique player at this stage of his career. He was signed last year to be a middle of the order threat, but the Mets had a desperate need to fill at the top of their lineup, as they simply lacked any kind of true leadoff threat.
Granderson has not only embraced his job as the club’s leadoff hitter, but he’s excelled at it. He knows when it’s time to work a pitcher deep into a count – as was the case in the seventh inning on Friday – but he also knows when it’s time to be aggressive and muscle up.
On Friday, he was the best of both worlds. He swung at first pitches two times against Kershaw in an effort to not let him get ahead in the count, ending a span of 72 straight plate appearances of taking the first pitch in a sequence.
The approach netted two hits and perhaps the most critical walk he’s drawn so far in 2015.