Alex Rodriguez hit his 24th career grand slam to break the Major League Baseball record he shared with Lou Gehrig and propel the New York Yankees to a 5-1 victory against the San Francisco Giants.
“I’m a huge fan of Lou Gehrig, everything he’s done, going back to his college days in New York,” Rodriguez told reporters. “He’s kind of the gold standard for a Yankee. Special moment. I’ll think about it someday.”
The Yankees (81-73) are struggling to stay in contention for one of the two American League wild-card spots that go to non-division-winning teams.
The two spots are now held by the Tampa Bay Rays (84-69) and Cleveland Indians (84-70). The Texas Rangers (83-70) are a half-game behind the Indians, followed by the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles (both 81-72, 2 1/2 games behind Cleveland) and the Yankees, an additional half-game back.
The Rays defeated the Orioles 5-4 in 18 innings last night as the teams combined to use 21 pitchers. The Indians beat the Houston Astros 2-1 in a rain-shortened seven-inning game. Kansas City beat Texas 2-1.
The Boston Red Sox (94-61) defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 6-3 to clinch the American League East title for their second division crown in the last 18 seasons. After falling to last place in the AL East last season, the Red Sox went from worst to first for the first time in franchise history.
At Yankee Stadium, Alfonso Soriano hit his 16th home run in the second inning, and Juan Perez tied the game in the third for the Giants with a run-scoring double.
Rodriguez, who is playing while appealing a record 211-game drug suspension, returned to the lineup Aug. 5 after missing 110 games while recovering from offseason hip surgery and then a mild quadriceps strain. His grand slam in the seventh inning was the seventh home run of the season for the third baseman.
“It means I’m getting old,” said the 38-year-old Rodriguez. “It’s hard to think about things like that right now. We’re really on a sprint to the end here and every win is huge for us.”
The Yankees have won only two of their last seven games.
“It’s an unbelievable accomplishment and it’s a big one for us,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. “I don’t know if we can afford to lose any more games.”
CC Sabathia (14-13) won his fourth straight game, allowing one run on seven hits in seven innings. Tim Lincecum (10-14) gave up four runs on five hits in 6 2/3 innings.
In the National League wild-card race, the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates are in front with records of 88-66 with the Washington Nationals five games back.