Alex Rodriguez Saves Day With Grand Slam, Makes History

A-Rod's 23rd career grand slam ties him with Lou Gehrig for the most in history

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    A-Rod flips the script on Tuesday night.

    It looked like the Yankees would be following one of their familiar narratives on Tuesday night in Atlanta.

    Braves starter Mike Minor is a soft-throwing left-hander who had posted some of the worst numbers in baseball to this point of the season, but the Yankees had never seen him before. That often makes the worst of pitchers into some combination of Cy Young, Bob Gibson and Tom Seaver, and Minor was no exception.

    Minor shut the Yankees out for seven innings, keeping righties off balance all night with the kind of nibbling, slow stuff that almost always highlights games like this. He finally left after allowing a one-out single to Derek Jeter in the eighth and that's when it looked like another narrative would take over the game.

    The Braves brought Johnny Venters and his groundball-generating stuff into the game and he promptly loaded the bases on a single and a walk, bringing Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees' hideous stats with the bases loaded to the plate. After a terrible offensive night, the Yankees were now facing their greatest failing of the season with a player who was 1-for-10 in those situations entering Tuesday night's game.

    Enter narrative No. 3. Rodriguez connected for a line drive that had just enough height and oomph to clear the fence in left for a grand slam that tied the game.

    The slam was nice for a Yankee team that hasn't done enough with runners on base this season and it also made a little bit of history. Rodriguez's 23rd career grand slam tied Lou Gehrig for the most grand slams of all time, linking the Iron Horse and a player often referred to as the back end of a horse at the top of one of the cooler lists in a game filled with cool lists.

    Two batters and one pitching change later, Nick Swisher hit a two-run home run to give the Yankees the 6-4 lead. That made the lasting, final narrative of the night the one about Yankee thunder always lurking around the corner to turn a loss into a victory.

    Despite the many failings of the Yankees at the plate this year, it has been impossible to lose sight of how much talent the Yankees send to the plate on a daily basis. A-Rod and Swisher provided the reminder on Tuesday night, but it feels like this whole group's going to bust out at some point and create some serious fireworks.

    That's bad news for the rest of the American League, but it is good news for the likes of CC Sabathia. Lost in the narrative shuffle was the one about Sabathia again lacking the kind of command that has made him one of the league's best pitchers.

    It wasn't a disaster -- Sabathia allowed three runs in the first and avoided further damage until the seventh -- but Sabathia was battling against it turning into one all night. It never did, but it laid plain that Sabathia is out of sorts right now and probably the weakest link on a team firing on all cylinders.

    That's not a narrative we've seen before. Even with so many familiar storylines, baseball has the ability to surprise you now and again.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.