By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson gave up a chance to tie Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera for the home run title on Wednesday, unaware he was just one big blast shy from sharing honors in the long-ball category.
Granderson slugged a three-run homer in the second frame and a solo blast in the seventh inning of New York's 14-2 rout of the Boston Red Sox that clinched the American League East title for the Yankees and gave him a career high 43 homers this year.
The Yankees kept pouring damage onto Boston's pitchers and the heavy hitting turned the batting order around in the seventh, leading manager Joe Girardi to ask Granderson if he wanted to go to the plate one more time.
"He just asked if I wanted my last at-bat and I said 'No, can Melky (Mesa) get in?" Granderson said about giving New York's rookie outfielder a chance to hit.
Granderson said he did not realize where he stood in the home run race until pitcher CC Sabathia approached him in the dugout after Mesa went up to hit for him.
"The fun thing about it was I had pre-taped a video to congratulate Miguel during batting practice, so that would have made everything even more interesting," said Granderson, a team mate of Cabrera's in Detroit before moving to the Yankees in a trade.
"He's an amazing hitter, an amazing team mate and a lot of fun to watch," said Granderson, who admitted he would have been conflicted had he realized where he stood in the home run race.
Asked if he would have taken the at-bat had he known, Granderson said: "At that point, I don't know. I just started to ask all those questions. What would have happened? How would it have been perceived? That would have been a very confusing moment for me. But it didn't, and we continue to move on."
As it turns out, Granderson should have felt free to go for home run number 44 without worrying about Cabrera, who would still have been considered the Triple Crown winner even if he had shared honors in most home runs.
(Editing by John O'Brien)