PITTSBURGH -- From the socks worn high as a tribute to Jackie Robinson to the dramatic grand slam on Monday night that helped make another comeback win possible, Curtis Granderson is a Dodgers natural.The newest acquisition slugged his eighth career grand slam and second in a week for as many
PITTSBURGH -- From the socks worn high as a tribute to Jackie Robinson to the dramatic grand slam on Monday night that helped make another comeback win possible, Curtis Granderson is a Dodgers natural.
The newest acquisition slugged his eighth career grand slam and second in a week for as many clubs to turn a deficit into a lead against the Pirates as the Dodgers went on to a 6-5 win with Yasiel Puig's homer in the 12th inning.
• Grand slams mean 40% off pizza
Being traded to the team with the best record in baseball came with the added benefit of wearing the Dodger Blue that Robinson wore when he broke baseball's color barrier.
"That was the first thing I thought about when I had the opportunity to come over here," Granderson told AM570 LA Sports radio. "Jackie did so many amazing things to get me this opportunity to be on the field and play with so many diverse teammates and fans, and people watching from all around the world because of Jackie Robinson. My dad, that was the first thing he said to me when I got traded, 'You get to play for the team that Jackie Robinson played for.'"
Granderson, who hit a grand slam in his final at-bat with the Mets last week, gave the Dodgers their eighth slam this year, tied with the 1952 Brooklyn club for third-most in a season on the all-time franchise list. The club record is 10 in 2004.
The surprise pickup from the Mets for pitcher Jacob Rhame has moved into the Dodgers' starting outfield, with Joc Pederson having been sent back to Triple-A Oklahoma City. It was Granderson's second homer in as many games for the Dodgers, this time while batting cleanup in place of Cody Bellinger, who is day to day with a right ankle sprain.
"That's what he does. He puts together big at-bats and gets big hits," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Granderson. "We've seen that from the other side from him. Back-to-back days, a couple of big homers for us, and obviously for us, the grand slam was huge."
On Sunday, batting leadoff, Granderson homered off former Tigers teammate Justin Verlander for the only Dodgers run in a 6-1 loss. In 17 August games, Granderson already has eight home runs.
Granderson has 21 home runs and 57 RBIs this year combined, and he delivered off Pirates starting pitcher Gerrit Cole in a five-run seventh inning after the Dodgers squandered a pair of bases-loaded threats in the second and sixth innings.
"The key is to just relax, not do too much, understand the pressure is on the pitcher," Granderson said of his approach with the bases loaded. "Get your pitch and not chase out of the zone. Cole is one of the top pitchers in the game and he was rolling early, but he made a few mistakes and we capitalized."
In the seventh inning, Chase Utley led off with a single, pinch-hitter John Forsythe walked, and after a forceout grounder by Chris Taylor put runners on the corners, Corey Seager's RBI single cut the deficit to 3-1. Justin Turner singled to load the bases for Granderson, who launched a 2-1 slider into the right-center seats. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle then removed Cole, who had thrown 112 pitches.
"Hung a bad slider to Granderson," said Cole, who allowed the first grand slam of his career. "We had success with him in the previous at-bat. In hindsight, probably should have challenged him. I'm trying to create a ground ball there with the slider. You know, whatever."
Granderson has talked about the pride he feels playing for Jackie Robinson's team and how he wears his socks high as a tribute to the Hall of Famer. He said he finds the current Dodgers to be a quietly confident ballclub.
"Any time you see a team from the outside and finally get over here, there's always going to be something different that you didn't see," Granderson said. "I knew they were confident, but didn't know if they were energetic or completely chill and they're somewhere in the middle. I remember yesterday we got down and someone said, 'This is when we do our best.' They don't get panicky."
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.