With one swing of the bat, Alex Rodriguez shot himself into the record books and kept the hottest team in baseball rolling. The Yankees third baseman's memorable night earned him a place in history and the game-changing moment of the week.
Rodriguez's game-tying grand slam Tuesday night against the Atlanta Braves was the 23rd of his career – tying him with Yankees great Lou Gehrig for the most all time.
It also came at a critical time in the ballgame and helped keep the Yankees' win streak alive.
Trailing 4-0 in the top of the eighth inning, the Yankees loaded the bases on singles by Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson, and a walk to Mark Teixeira. That brought Rodriguez to the plate to face Braves All-Star reliever Jonny Venters.
With one out, Venters fell behind 3-0. Rodriguez took a called strike, fouled off two pitches then lined his 10th home run of the season into the left-field stands.
The blast tied the game and equaled the Iron Horse's 74-year old record.
"It means a lot," Rodriguez said. "It was very special. This game is very, very difficult. If you're not going to enjoy these great moments, then it's not any fun. Lou Gehrig is not only one of the all-time greats, but he's one of ours. He was a Yankee. He was a guy, when they say, 'If you ever have the opportunity, who would you take to dinner?' For me, he would be in the top four or five."
The slam was big for the team, too. Two batters later, Nick Swisher hit a two-run homer to give the Yankees the lead. The Yankees had seven consecutive batters reach base, put up six runs in the inning and held on for a 6-4 win.
"This was definitely one to remember," Rodriguez said. "It was big; it really was. I really felt like it was a swing for the team. I feel like everybody needed that hit and we've all been waiting for it."
That was the Yankees' fifth win in a row – part of a streak that has now reached nine, as of Monday. The win streak has vaulted them into first place in the American League East, one-and-a-half games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles.
The streak began with a thee-game sweep of the New York Mets in the first leg of their Subway Series last week. Then it was on to Atlanta for another sweep before finishing the week with a three-game sweep of the Washington Nationals.
Yankees are 13-2 in June.
A-Rod's next grand slam will put him alone at the top of the leaderboard. Manny Ramirez sits third on the list with 21; Eddie Murray is fourth all-time with 19.
San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain was as efficient as you can get last Wednesday night. A perfect game will do that.
The Giants ace shutdown 27 Houston Astros in a row in an impressive perfect game, the second of the 2012 season to go along with three other no-hitters. The Giants beat the helpless Astros 10-0 but for once didn't need the extra run support.
Cain struck out a career-high 14 batters in the win, throwing 125 pitches, in the dominant performance.
Prior to Wednesday's perfecto, Cain had carried five no-hitters into the seventh inning but could never get over the hump. A once-in-a-lifetime performance like this seemed almost inevitable for Cain.