To the credit of Alex Rodriguez, he's made the most of an opportunity we weren't even sure he was going to be afforded a little less than two months ago. Since joining the Yankees lineup on Aug. 5, the veteran third baseman has actually proven to be a consistent source of production, hitting .267 with six home runs and 14 RBI in 157 plate appearances entering play on Friday night.
That surprising production continued in the Yankees critical 5-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants at Yankee Stadium. In the seventh inning, A-Rod not only delivered what proved to be the difference making blow in the victory, but also etched his name in the record books with his 24th career grand slam. That moves him past Yankees legend Lou Gehrig for No. 1 on MLB's all-time list.
The tiebreaking blast came off relief pitcher George Kontos, who was specifically brought in to face Rodriguez. All three runners on base were the responsibility of starter Tim Lincecum Rodriguez had been 0-for-3 against Lincecum earlier in the game, but Giants manager Bruce Bochy elected not to push his starter past 121 pitches. A good long term decision, but it cost San Francisco in the short term.
Rodriguez's slam was his first since June 12, 2012 against Atlanta Braves left-handed Johnny Venters. It made a winner out of C.C. Sabathia, who improved to 14-13 on the season. But most importantly, it's a win for New York as they continue to hang around the fringe of the wild card race. They're currently three games back of the Cleveland Indians, who moved into a wild card position with a victory on Friday.
It's not likely, but if the Yankees were to make a run at the postseason, this moment might be the one that's circled as the turning point. New York entered play on Friday losers of five of their previous six games. The offense desperately needed a spark, and A-Rod provided it with his swing. For that reason alone, it could very well be A-Rod's most important grand slam to date.
Time will tell on that, but it should be a long time before anyone approaches A-Rod's new record. No active player has more than 14 career slams, and that number belongs to Jason Giambi.
Try as they might, Major League Baseball just can't get rid of Alex Rodriguez.