Granderson tries to get rhythm, but Yankees beat Tigers 11-7

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LAKELAND, Fla. (AP)—Detroit center fielder Curtis Granderson has struggled to find his timing this spring. He seemed to find it Saturday.

Granderson hit two homers and a triple, driving in four runs in an 11-7 loss to a New York Yankees split squad.

Granderson homered to deep center off Yankees starter Joba Chamberlain to lead off the first, and added a two-run shot off Ross Ohlendorf. In 10 previous games this spring, he had seven hits in 33 at-bats.

“It’s one day,” Granderson said. “The big thing for me, I wanted to get my timing back.”

Detroit starting pitcher Justin Verlander struggled while working on driving off his back leg to add power to his already formidable fastball. Verlander left several pitches up in the zone early in the game and the Yankees made him pay.

That “was not really a good recipe for success,” Verlander said.

After a leadoff walk to Yankees left fielder Johnny Damon in the first, five of New York’s next six batters collected hits. A double by right fielder Jason Lane brought home two, capping a five-run inning.

The Yankees got two more in the second on a double by second baseman Robinson Cano.

After that, Verlander seemed to settle down and didn’t allow another run. He left with two outs in the fourth, having given up seven earned runs. In eight innings pitched this spring prior to Saturday, Verlander had not allowed an earned run.

“I was pleased with how I felt,” said Verlander, who was 18-6 last year with a 3.66 ERA. “It’s really the first time (this spring) I’ve had to go extended innings. Even though the outcome wasn’t good, I felt like I made strides in the right direction. I was on track toward the end of the outing, when I made some adjustments. I’ll be ready.”

The Yankees had 17 hits, including three by third baseman Morgan Ensberg, who is batting .360 this spring. He led New York with three RBIs.

Center fielder Melky Cabrera, Cano, catcher Jose Molina and first baseman Cody Ransom had two hits each.

Chamberlain, who allowed three earned runs in three innings, got the win.

“It’s a great lineup,” Chamberlain said. “They’ve got a lot of talented guys. It was good to see that lineup. It’s one of the best in baseball.”

Chamberlain said one of his pitches was clocked at 99 mph.

“That’s the first time I’ve let loose all year,” he said. “It feels good when your arm is back to where it should be.”

Notes

Tigers catcher Ivan Rodriguez had two hits and has hit safely in six straight games. … Detroit has 20 home runs in its past nine games. … Before Saturday’s game, Detroit’s pitching staff had a 3.75 ERA this spring, ranking first among American League teams. The Tigers allowed nine earned runs Saturday. … Tigers manager Jim Leyland said reliever Fernando Rodney is very unlikely to be ready for the team’s season opener March 31 against Kansas City. Rodney threw from the mound Thursday for the first time, then had another session Saturday. “He was not as good as he was two days ago,” Leyland said.

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