NEW YORK CITY (AFP) – New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, playing only because he has appealed a 211-game Major League Baseball doping ban, now owns the sport’s North American career grand slam record.
“A-Rod’’ smacked the 24th bases-loaded home run of his career to give the Yankees a 5-1 home victory over the San Francisco Giants on Friday, pushing him one ahead of the grand slam mark established in 1938 by Yankee legend Lou Gehrig.
Rodriguez, nursing a tight hamstring and a sore calf muscle, hit a two-ball, one-strike blast off Giants relief pitcher George Kontos over the right-centerfield wall with two outs in the seventh inning to produce his historic homer.
“I’m not thinking home run right there,’’ Rodriguez said. “I’m actually thinking of putting a good swing on the ball and not try to do too much.’’
The blow snapped a 1-for-25 batting slump for Rodriguez, who was more thankful for the victory than the record as the Yankees fight for a wildcard playoff spot in the final 10 days of the six-month season.
“It’s hard to think about things like that right now,’’ said Rodriguez of the record. “We’re really in a sprint to the end here and every win is huge for us.
“That’s baseball. One swing can turn a lot of things around. Hopefully this ended the streak and we can get something rolling from here.’’
The 38-year-old third baseman’s record blast was the 654th homer of his career, six shy of Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time North American homer list and 108 shy of the career record set by Barry Bonds.
But Rodriguez, who had not belted a grand slam since June of last year, might be in the final days of his career.