Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 6/1/12

DETROIT -- CC Sabathia may not be overpowering anymore, but Curtis Granderson still is.

Sabathia mixed his pitches like the smooth veteran operator he is through seven innings Friday night and Granderson belted a second-inning grand slam that gave New York a jump-start on the runs it needed to post a 9-4 victory over the Detroit Tigers.

Manager Joe Girardi tried to get through without using Rafael Soriano but needed his closer to quiet Detroit in the ninth by getting Miguel Cabrera to hit into a game-ending double play to third with the bases loaded.

With both David Robertson and the man he replaced as closer, Mariano Rivera, out with injuries, Girardi intends to mix and match with his bullpen until he can get to Soriano.

Sabathia has faced the Tigers twice this season, defeating them 6-2 with eight innings of four-hit ball April 29 and on Friday when he spaced out eight hits and two walks.

The big lefty doesn't throw fastballs in the upper 90s anymore, but his 91-93 is plenty good enough when he spots it around the strike zone and mixes in his offspeed and breaking stuff.

"He was at 70 pitches after three innings," Girardi said, "but he recovered to find it after that."

The Yankees had only two hits in taking a 5-1 lead after two innings -- a harmless single by Derek Jeter leading off the game and Granderson's fourth career grand slam and 17th home run this season.

Some of New York's other storied players get more headlines, but Granderson often does just as much. He has 58 home runs since the start of the 2011 season with 22 off left-handed pitching -- pretty good for a left-handed hitter who left Detroit with a "can't hit lefties" tag. And pretty good for a guy who insists he's not a home run hitter.

"He's going to hit a lot of home runs for a guy who's not a home run hitter," Girardi said. "Lefty against lefty, he's figured it out. Since about Aug. 1, 2010 he's made an adjustment. He's a guy you don't move (in the lineup) against a left-hander. And you know he's going to produce. He's come a long way."

"He stays back against left-handers and he covers the strike zone," Sabathia said.

New York took advantage of a promising but wild and inexperienced rookie Detroit pitcher, Casey Crosby, who walked four before Granderson got the pitch he was looking for and drilled over the fence in extreme right field. What else would he be looking for from a green lefty on a 3-2 pitch? It was a 91 mph fastball, and it was gone as soon as he swung.

"The Yankees don't swing at the pitches they swing at in Triple-A," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "But we'll run him out against Cleveland and see what happens. They have a lot of left-handed hitters."

Crosby is the kind of pitcher the Tigers have specialized in drafting most of the last eight years -- a high-ceiling hard-thrower who slipped in the draft because of signability questions. The Tigers grabbed him in the fifth round in 2007 and bought him out of a college offer for some $750,000. Because of firm signing guidelines now in place, that kind of player won't get drafted next week or will be taken much higher in the draft.

He missed 2008 with Tommy John surgery and pitched only three times in 2010 because of a sore elbow.

Luis Marte quieted the New York bats with 3 2/3 innings of shutout relief, but then the Yankees got an extra run in the eighth off Brayan Villarreal when Nick Swisher walked with two out and came home on Jayson Nix's sharp ground double down the third-base line.

Alex Rodriguez hit his first home run since May 23, a two-run high flyball to left center that gave him eight home runs and 21 RBI this season.

A sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Jhonny Peralta in the eighth made it 7-4. Miguel Cabrera had doubled leading off and advanced to third on a single to third by Delmon Young.

Rookie Quintin Berry tripled and doubled his first two times up, scoring both times.

The left-handed hitter ripped a 0-1 Sabathia fastball into the gap in right center leading off in the first and made it to third standing up. Danny Worth followed with a line RBI single to right.

Berry followed a Ramon Santiago leadoff home run in the third with a double. Sabathia seemed to have worked out of trouble when he got Cabrera to swing at a breaking ball in the dirt for the second out, but Prince Fielder stroked a 3-2 curve to center for a soft RBI single, making it 5-3.

"It looked like he was going to get out of with just one run scoring," Girardi said, "but then he held it to two."

New York extended its lead back to 6-3 in the fourth. Jayson Nix doubled down the first base line, took advantage of Detroit's rookie starter Casey Crosby's inexperience to steal third on the next pitch and then Chris Stewart singled through a drawn-in infield.

Crosby, who would have started for the Toledo Mud Hens on Thursday had fate not jumped up in the form of a left side injury to Doug Fister, eased through the first inning. However, the same control problems that bedeviled him in the minors bit him in the second inning.

Robinson Cano, Swisher, Nix and Jeter all walked to tie the score 1-1 and set Granderson up for his 17th home run of the season and fourth grand slam of his career.

"I thought our guys did a pretty good job against Crosby," Girardi said. "We worked some walks and then Granderson made him pay."

NOTES: A May 25 play, at the urging of the Yankees, was reviewed and changed from an error on Oakland's Coco Crisp to a hit with Cano gaining an RBI double. ... Friday was the first time the Yankees had faced a Tigers pitcher making his major league debut since April 9, 1999, when New York defeated Beiker Graterol. The last Detroit pitcher to beat the Yankees in his debut was Bill Slayback on June 26, 1972. ... Twenty years ago, on June 1, 1992, the Yankees drafted a thin shortstop from Kalamazoo (Mich.) Central High School. His name was Derek Jeter and he went sixth overall. Selected ahead of Jeter were 3B Phil Nevin (now manager at Detroit's Toledo farm club) by Houston; RHP Paul Shuey by Cleveland; LHP B.J. Wallace by Montreal; OF Jeffrey Hammonds by Baltimore; and OF Chad Mottola by Cincinnati.

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