As the sun faded out of the Comerica Park view, Curtis Granderson slowly sauntered toward the batter’s box. After peering at both his third base coach and teammate Josh Anderson on first base, Granderson turned his attention to Indians hurler Rafael Betancourt. With his team holding to a one-run lead in the bottom of the eighth, Betancourt knew getting a first-pitch strike would give him a major advantage in the at-bat. Granderson, like a professional poker player, already knew his opponent’s play.
“When you go all the way from high school to college to minor league ball and pro ball, pitchers are taught to throw first-pitch strike one,” Granderson said. “Those are the pitches you want to hit and it might be the best pitch you’ll get that at-bat if the pitcher is doing what he is supposed to do. He doesn’t want to fall behind. If a guy goes up there aggressive and looking for what he wants and puts it in play, it’s probably going to be something positive.”
Betancourt fired a fastball toward the inner edge of the plate. Granderson launched the pitch deep over the right-field wall, giving the Tigers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish and sending Detroit fans into a jubilant spring frenzy.