Alex Rodriguez tied a Major League record held by a fellow Yankee legend Tuesday night when he clubbed his 23rd career grand slam. With the blast, which came in the eighth inning of a 6-4 Yankees win over the Atlanta Braves, Rodriguez tied the “Iron Horse,” Lou Gehrig, for the most grand slams in a career. Gehrig compiled his from 1923 to 1939, long before expansion and the advent of situational relievers.
Rodriguez delivered the blast on a 3-2 pitch in the top of the eighth inning off Atlanta reliever Jonny Venters, erasing a 4-0 deficit with one swing of the bat. The Yankees would go on to score two more runs in the frame to post the come from behind victory. It was a much better result than Rodriguez had been posting with the bases loaded; he was only one of ten so far this season.
The home run was the 639th of Rodriguez’s career which is good for fifth on the all-time home runs list. He trails fourth place Willie Mays by 21. Of the four players ahead of Rodriguez, three are in the Hall of Fame; Barry Bonds is the exception as of the 2012 induction class.
Rodriguez hit his first career grand slam off Detroit’s Clint Sadowsky in the Kingdome on April 18, 1996. He has four grand slams from games with both the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles. He hasn’t had any major grand slam sprees either; three is the most he has hit in any season of his career. Three of Rodriguez’s slams have been walk-offs.
This slam was Rodriguez’s first since April 23, 2011 when he connected off Baltimore’s Josh Rupe. Last season, Rodriguez appeared in 99 games, which was his lowest total of games played in the majors since 1995, when he played in 48 contests after being called up late in the season by the Mariners.
As of Wednesday, he leads all active players in runs scored with 1,859, home runs with 639, runs batted in with 1,923 and total bases with 5,314. He has 2,838 career hits, 501 doubles and 311 stolen bases to go along with a .301 career average. Rodriguez has led the American League in home runs on five separate occasions in his career, including a career best 57 in 2002 while with the Texas Rangers.
Rodriguez’s next grand slam will beat Gehrig and make A-Rod the sole record holder in major league history. The next closest player to Rodriguez and Gehrig in grand slams that is currently active is Manny Ramirez, who has 21. Ramirez is still toiling in the minors working on getting his swing and timing back before the Oakland Athletics decide whether to call him up or if his career will end at age 40. After those two, the highest total of an active player is Carlos Lee, who has 16.
If you were the opposing manager facing the Yankees and Rodriguez came to the plate in a bases loaded situation with a chance to break the record, would you pitch to him or do your best to work around him?