The slugging outfielder has been battling a cough recently -- but he's been able to play anyway.
"I feel fine," Granderson said. "That's the crazy thing."
Granderson had reason to feel good. His grand slam against his former team in the second inning helped the Yankees to a 9-4 victory and snapped New York out of an extended funk with the bases loaded.
The Yankees were 8 for 54 with the bases full this season before Granderson's drive down the right-field line off Detroit rookie Casey Crosby.
"That inning just got away from me," Crosby said. "By that point, I was trying too hard to get something over the plate, and I left a fastball where Granderson could put a huge swing on it."
It was tied at 1 when Granderson cleared the bases with a drive just inside the pole in right field off Crosby, a left-hander making his major league debut.
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Sabathia (7-2) allowed three runs and eight hits in seven innings. New York used five relievers. Rafael Soriano came on with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth. He got Miguel Cabrera to ground into a double play for his seventh save.
"You've got to go out and battle," Sabathia said. "I felt like that's what it was today. It was a battle."
Crosby allowed six runs and four hits in 3 1/3 innings. He walked four -- all in the second -- and struck out three.
Derek Jeter had two hits and scored a run for the Yankees.
Crosby was recalled earlier in the day from Triple-A Toledo to start in place of the injured Doug Fister. He made it through the first inning OK, and the Tigers took the lead when Berry hit a leadoff triple and scored on Danny Worth's single.
But on a drizzly night at Comerica Park, the rain picked up a bit in the top of the second, and Crosby walked the bases loaded. The rain let up a bit, and play was never halted. With two outs, Crosby walked Jeter on a 3-2 pitch to force in a run.
"The big thing with this team is just -- pass it to the next guy," Granderson said.
Granderson was the next guy, and he followed with his 17th homer of the year.
Granderson was traded from Detroit to New York after the 2009 season.
Detroit chipped away in the third with Santiago's homer and an RBI single by Prince Fielder, but Brennan Boesch struck out to leave the bases loaded.
Detroit came into the game with a .114 average with the bases loaded -- even worse than New York's.
The Yankees came back with a run in the fourth on an RBI single by Chris Stewart.
Detroit had men on first and second in the sixth when Omir Santos hit a grounder up the middle. But second baseman Robinson Cano was playing near the bag and made a nice stop on the opposite side of it. He tagged the base and threw to first for a double play to end the inning.
Andruw Jones hit a run-scoring double in the eighth to make it 7-3.
Rodriguez, who struck out three times, hit a towering drive to left-center in the ninth for his eighth homer.
- Detroit DH Gerald Laird left the game with right hamstring tightness after diving head first into first base for an infield single in the sixth.
- Yankees OF Brett Gardner (strained right elbow) took some batting practice in the cage Friday, and manager Joe Girardi says he thinks it's possible he could be back next weekend or the series after that.
- New York RHP David Robertson (strained oblique) is expected to throw a bullpen session this weekend.
- Detroit RHP Rick Porcello (3-4) takes on New York RHP Hiroki Kuroda (4-6) on Saturday night.