"Yeah, looking at our division, nobody has pulled away. And we still haven't played good baseball," Granderson said Sunday.
That was after he played great defense and scored three runs, Placido Polanco hit a tiebreaking single and Detroit scored four times in the ninth inning off struggling J.J. Putz to beat the Seattle Mariners 7-5.
Detroit had scored five runs total in the ninth inning during its first 55 games.
"No question, he's our catalyst," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of Granderson, his leadoff hitter who has been emerging from a 3-for-31 stretch.
Granderson easily threw out Yuniesky Betancourt trying to advance from first base to third on a single by Ichiro Suzuki in the sixth with the score tied at 3. Magglio Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera each drove in two runs as Detroit, wayward for most of the season against everyone else, won for the fifth time in six meetings with Seattle this year to move six games behind AL Central-leading Chicago.
"We're going to hit a hot streak," Granderson said after the Tigers' third win in four games on their nine-game trip along the West Coast.
Putz (2-3) began the ninth by striking out Ivan Rodriguez but then walked Brandon Inge, the No. 9 hitter. Granderson singled him to third, and Inge scored on a bloop single by Polanco to give Detroit its third lead of the game, 4-3.
That ended a scoreless streak of 18 2/3 innings by the Mariners' bullpen.
With two outs, Ordonez hit a hard one-hopper off the glove of third baseman Adrian Beltre for an infield single as Granderson scored. Cabrera then hit a two-run double, his second double of the day.
That became important when Raul Ibanez, who had three hits and three RBIs, hit a two-run homer off Todd Jones in the bottom of the ninth. Then Miguel Cairo, starting his fifth consecutive game at first base for slumping Richie Sexson, lined out to Granderson to end the game while representing the potential tying run.
Mariners manager John McLaren indicated before the game that Sexson, making $14 million in the final year of his contract, might not play again anytime soon. McLaren didn't pinch-hit for Cairo in the ninth, even though Sexson is 5-for-11 with three home runs against Jones. And even though Cairo's last home run was on July 28, 2005.
"I just think that Cairo's been swinging the bat pretty good, and so forth and so on," was McLaren's cryptic explanation.
Putz, who was on the disabled list with a ribcage injury in April, already has two more losses and one more blown save (three total) than he had all last year. His ERA is 5.60 in 17 games, he has allowed 11 earned runs and his velocity is down. He had a 1.38 ERA last season, allowing 11 earned runs in 68 appearances.
Putz's failures are a big reason the Mariners own the AL's worst record at 21-36. They have lost eight of 11.
When asked if rebounding from the ribcage pain and irritation on a finger on his pitching hand is causing his problems, the All-Star closer said: "I don't know. I've never had to do it before. ... I feel fine."
Granderson was glad to see Putz enter in the ninth in a non-save situation. Better him than hard-throwing Brandon Morrow, who struck out two of the three Tigers he faced in a perfect eighth inning and has been throwing in the upper 90-mph range for two weeks.
"I was wondering why they went to him," Granderson said about Putz, adding he's noticed many closers in the league are struggling in non-save situations.
Seattle wasted a chance to break a 3-all tie in the eighth when it had Jeremy Reed on third with one out against winning pitcher Zach Miner (2-3). After Betancourt lined out to third, Miner intentionally walked Suzuki, who was 2-for-4. Jose Lopez then grounded out to end the threat.
Jeremy Bonderman, a former high school star in Pasco, Wash., who had 20 family members in attendance, allowed a career-high 12 hits but only three earned runs in seven innings, with five strikeouts. He still has only one win in his last six starts -- over Seattle's Miguel Batista in Detroit last month.
Batista allowed five hits, three runs and four walks in 5 2/3 innings.
Tigers INF Carlos Guillen borrowed Gary Sheffield's larger glove and started in LF for the first time in his career as a way for Leyland to get Inge, Guillen and Cabrera in the lineup together. Leyland said Guillen looked good "and happy," which Guillen confirmed. That arrangement might continue against RHPs, Leyland said. ... Beltre who hit seven home runs in May to tie for the AL lead, hit his team-leading 13th of the season in the second inning.
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