NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Sure, many called for Alex Rodriguez to be benched for Friday night’s deciding Game 5.

But the drum was beating for Curtis Granderson to ride the pine, too. Unlike A-Rod, Granderson was penciled into the lineup by manager Joe Girardi.

The decision paid off.

Batting No. 7, the outfielder went 2 for 3 and added a valuable insurance run with his solo homer in the bottom of the seventh to give New York a 3-0 lead over Baltimore.

It was more than enough with ace CC Sabathia on the mound.

“He came through today,” Girardi said after the Yankees’ ALDS-clinching 3-1 win. “That third run is a huge run for us and off a lefty. For Curtis, the big thing is when he swings at strikes, he is extremely dangerous.”

Granderson had a career year in 2012 — both good and bad. He set new marks with 43 home runs (good) and 195 strikeouts (bad). His .232 average was an all-time low.

Against the Orioles in the division series he was just plain bad. That is, until Game 5. Granderson was 1 for 16 with nine strikeouts entering Friday’s matchup.

His woes were well documented on talk radio, and let’s just say he heard it from the crowd at Yankee Stadium.

“You have to understand that things can turn,” Granderson said. “It’s part of baseball. It was four games, and over the course of the season, you go through (those) four-game stretches all the time. Obviously, these are more magnified and more intense, but you have to continue to swing the bat.”

He said his turnaround was a matter of “attacking pitches in the zone.”

“Sometimes you get the calls to go your way and sometimes you don’t,” said Granderson. “But when you do get pitches in the zone, you have to try not to miss those.”

The Yankees will stay in the Bronx for Game 1 of the ALCS on Saturday night against a familiar playoff foe — the Detroit Tigers.

“Excited, looking forward to it,” Granderson said of his former club. “That’s the team that knocked us out last year. A very hungry team, aggressive team, a confident team. (Manager) Jim Leyland is going to have those boys ready to play.”

Will we see the good Grandy against Detroit? Be heard in the comments below!


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