Every Major League postseason game has a turning point -- a moment that was crucial to one team winning or losing. During the American League Division Series between the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers, SB Nation New York has decided to select a turning point for each game. We will relive that moment and break it down to explain why if it didn't happen, the Yankees would have either won or lost the game. If you have an opinion, please feel free to discuss in the comment section below. (Turning point: Game 1, Game 2, Game 3.)
Curtis Granderson may or may not have earned his first ever AL MVP award during the regular season, but nobody is arguing the value of No. 14 Wednesday morning. The second-year Yankee made two spectacular catches Tuesday night in New York's 10-1 victory over Detroit in Game 4 of the ALDS at Comerica Park.The win helped the Yankees tie the best-of-five series at 2-2 and force a decisive Game 5, which will be played Thursday at Yankee Stadium.
The most impressive of the catches came in the bottom of the sixth inning when he sprinted and dove, fully extended, to rob Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta of a single. The catch ended the inning and silenced the crowd in Detroit.
But, the SB Nation New York's turning point moment came in the bottom of the first inning when Yankee starting pitcher A.J. Burnett walked the bases loaded. With two outs, after Yankee pitching coach Larry Rothschild came to the mound to talk to the shaky pitcher, Detroit outfielder Don Kelly smoked the first pitch he saw from Burnett to center field. Granderson, who initially came in to catch the ball, realized the ball was going over his head. Granderson leaped up, snagged the ball and then tumbled to the ground for the final out of the inning.
Jim Leyland on Curtis Granderson's Catch (via CBSSports)
After the game, Granderson admitted that the catch wasn't that easy:
"Right away I thought he hit it right to me," said Granderson "I took a step in and froze. It started to get some air. At least for my perspective, it kind of went up. I was, like, oh man. I was able to go ahead and not be committed one away or the other. I ended up having to leave my feet, which I didn't want to. I ended up reeling it in finally at the end. Don Kelly came up to me later in the game he goes, "how did you do it?" I said, "You hit it that hard. If you didn't hit it that hard, it would have fell in and been a base hit."
If Granderson doesn't make that first-inning catch, Detroit scores at least three runs, possibly four because Kelly has decent speed. But, Granderson saved Burnett from a disastrous inning and, from there, he was able to settle down and pitch 5 2/3 innings with just one earned run.
At the plate, Granderson finished the game 1-for-5, including run-scoring double in the fifth inning.