The San Francisco Giants went to their bullpen on Friday night with two outs in the seventh inning, and Alex Rodriguez made them regret it. His opposite-field home run not only broke a 1-1 tie; it set a new MLB record for career grand slams.
This was the 24th bases-clearing blast for the polarizing third baseman. Entering this game, he and Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig were even at 23 apiece.
A-Rod extended his arms on George Kontos' outside fastball and deposited it several rows beyond the right-field wall into a crowd of delirious New York Yankees fans:
Twitter predictably exploded with reaction to the historic feat:
GRAND SLAM FOR A-ROD WOOOOOW— Matt (@Matthew_Narouz) September 21, 2013
A-Rod also moves past Lou Gehrig into 1st place all-time on Grand Slam list - legendary.— Steve Popper (@StevePopper) September 21, 2013
An A-Bomb from A-Rod! Grand slam to save the Yankees chances at the postseason!!!— Sergio Gomez (@SigmaCrash13) September 21, 2013
Tim Lincecum started the game for the defending World Series champs and owned Rodriguez through three plate appearances, retiring him each time.
Unfortunately, the right-hander had difficulty throwing strikes to the Yankees lineup. Walking Ichiro Suzuki to load the bases in the seventh elevated his pitch count to 121, and manager Bruce Bochy thought a fresh arm like Kontos was better suited to escape the jam.
A-Rod's clutch round-tripper gave New York a 5-1 lead with only six outs left to record. David Robertson and Mariano Rivera sealed the deal without much drama.
In 40 games played since returning from hip surgery, the 38-year-old is batting a respectable .261/.364/.458 with seven home runs. Skipper Joe Girardi certainly won't mind keeping him at designated hitter if that production continues.
Piggy-backing off that final tweet, the Yankees absolutely needed this series-opening victory.
As Bleacher Report's postseason tracker reveals, they're looking up at a handful of teams in the scramble for an American League wild-card berth. The 2013 regular season ends on Sept. 29.
These heroics only temporarily silenced the boo birds. A-Rod is sure to hear more chirping the very next time he disappoints in a high-pressure situation.
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