The call from Mario Impemba and Rod Allen on this catch really made the catch seem extra special and it deserved every bit of it.
On May 8, 2009, the Detroit Tigers squared off against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Justin Verlander toed the slab for the Tigers that night and was masterful.
Heading into the ninth inning, Detroit held a slim one-run lead over the Tribe. Luis Valbuena led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk to become the potential tying run. Kelly Shoppach attempted a sacrifice bunt to try and move Valbuena over to second base, but a force out at second base put an end to that and Shoppach was left standing at first base with one out. Grady Sizemore was next up to bat for Cleveland. He put up quite an at-bat against Verlander, but on the seventh pitch of the at-bat….. that’s when the heroics occurred that night.
Sizemore took a 99 MPH Verlander fastball and sent it to dead center field. The ball surely had enough on it to get over the wall and become a walk-off two-run home run for the Tribe, but Curtis Granderson had different plans in mind. Granderson tracked the ball all the way to the center field wall, then proceeded to make a tremendous leap at the wall and somehow make a miraculous catch to rob Sizemore of the potential walk-off blast. Impemba and Allen’s reaction from the booth added extra emphasis at just how great of a catch Granderson just made. I mean, the catch proved to a ‘game saving’ catch in the long run and also preserved Verlander’s shutout effort.
JV went all nine innings, giving up just two hits and striking out 11 batters, but it wouldn’t have occurred if it wasn’t for Grandy’s catch.
Verlander had this to say post-game…
“That is one of the most amazing plays, given the situation. You won’t see a regular season play any better.”
I think that pretty much sums it up.
Curtis Granderson was such a class act. He not only played some great baseball during his tenure with the Detroit Tigers, but also did so much for the community. His ‘Grand Kids’ foundation helps raise money to benefit the educations of inner-city children around the country. Granderson is just an all round great human being and it was extremely tough hearing about the trade that ultimately sent him to the New York Yankees on December 9, 2009.
He’ll always be a Tiger in my eyes though.