Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees hits an 8th inning grand slam against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Tuesday night in Atlanta, two historically interesting things happened.
As expected, Jonny Venters threw Rodriguez a sinker. Not as expected -- more on that in a moment -- Rodriguez drove Venters' sinker into the first row of seats beyond the left-field fence for a game-tying grand slam.
Whoops. Nick Swisher hit one 410 feet for a two-run homer, and just like that the Yankees had turned a 4-0 deficit into a 6-4 lead. Which was how the game ended. And with Tampa Bay getting blown out by the Mets, the Yankees took first place in the American League East all for themselves.
Let's go back to that grand slam, though. It was Alex Rodriguez's 23rd grand slam. Which ties him for one of baseball's great and long-standing records.
On the 20th of August in 1938, with his body already wracked by the disease that would soon cost him his career and his life, Lou Gehrig hit the 488th home run of his career, and the 23rd grand slam to extend the record he already owned.
Babe Ruth, of course, hit far more home runs than Gehrig; 226 more home runs, to be precise. But somehow Ruth managed only 16 home runs with the bases loaded. Ruth hit his 16th grand slam in 1934. But that still left him behind Gehrig, who'd hit his 17th salami two weeks earlier. And while Ruth's career ended in 1935, Gehrig just kept on playing and hitting grand slams.
But now Alex Rodriguez, nearly 84 years after Gehrig hit his 23rd grand slam, has tied the record. And like Gehrig in 1934, Rodriguez still has plenty of seasons in which to hit more of them.
Oh, and in case you're wondering? Barry Bonds hit 11 home runs with the bases loaded. And drew one intentional walk. Anyway, keep your eye on that Rodriguez kid, next time he comes up with the bases loaded. You just might see a new record that's unlikely to be matched while you're alive.
Meanwhile, about Jonny Venters ... In his first two seasons with the Braves, Venters gave up three home runs in 171 innings. This season, he's given up four home runs in 24 innings.
It's probably just one of those things.