A-Rod ties Gehrig with 23rd career grand slam

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A-Rod ties Gehrig with 23rd career grand slam

From Comcast SportsNet
ATLANTA (AP) -- Alex Rodriguez took a grand swing into the record books Tuesday night, and now stands shoulder to shoulder with Lou Gehrig. Rodriguez hit his 23rd career grand slam, matching Hall of Famer Gehrig's record, and the New York Yankees scored six runs in the eighth inning to rally for a 6-4 win over the Atlanta. Nick Swisher hit a tiebreaking two-run homer off Cory Gearrin two batters after Rodriguez connected against Jonny Venters. The Yankees had been only 10 for 67 (.149) with the bases loaded this season before Rodriguez hit his tying shot. Minutes later, Rodriguez paused to savor his shared place with Gehrig in baseball history. "It means a lot," Rodriguez said. "It's 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." The Yankees matched their season high with a fifth straight win and moved into sole possession of first in the AL East when Tampa Bay lost to the Mets. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said it was "absolutely incredible" for Rodriguez to equal Gehrig's mark. "It's hard to fathom what he's been able to do in his career," Girardi said. "To be mentioned with Lou Gehrig, that's special." CC Sabathia (8-3) left trailing 4-0 after seven innings but was the beneficiary of the rally. The big lefty gave up four runs on a season-high 10 hits with two walks and six strikeouts. Rodriguez was aware of the Yankees' struggles with the bases loaded. "I almost felt like it was a swing for the team," Rodriguez said. "I felt like everybody needed that hit. We've all been waiting for it, but it definitely feels good to pick up our big man CC and to give our team a win." The Yankees have won 10 of 12. "What a game, right?" said a giddy Swisher. "It just goes to show you, you've got to play all 27 outs. We're that type of team. I think we're very resilient. We don't back down from any challenge regardless of what we're up against. "Rod with that grand slam, that will tell people how we hit with the bases loaded," Swisher said. "It was awesome." Rafael Soriano, who pitched in Atlanta from 2007-09, retired the Braves in order in the ninth for his 10th save of the season and the 100th of his career. The Braves, who wasted a strong start by Mike Minor, have lost three straight. Rodriguez had been 1 for 10 this season with the bases loaded before he lined the full-count pitch from Venters over the left field wall. Braves left fielder Martin Prado barely moved as he watched the homer clear the wall. "I made a bad pitch and he crushed it," Venters said. "I have no excuses. I felt great mechanically. I felt great physically. I just fell behind some hitters. ... I threw a pitch right down the middle, 3-2, to one of the best hitters in the game. "I feel bad I let my team down," he added. Rodriguez's homer was his 10th of the season and first grand slam. Minor gave up five hits and one run in 7 1-3 innings. He was pulled after giving up a one-out single to Derek Jeter in the eighth. "You feel comfortable with a four-run lead and five outs to go," said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, who revealed that another left-hander in his bullpen, Eric O'Flaherty, was not available due to a sore arm. "I think we pushed (Minor) as far as we could push him, really," Gonzalez said. "And he did a hell of a job. It's a shame he didn't get the W." Venters (3-3) loaded the bases, allowing a single to Curtis Granderson before walking Mark Teixeira to set up the tying grand slam by Rodriguez. Venters, who did not record an out, then gave up a single to Robinson Cano and was lifted. Swisher followed with his 10th homer for a 6-4 lead. Matt Diaz hit a three-run double in the first to give the Braves the lead they kept until the eighth. Diaz started ahead of Jason Heyward in right field for the second time in three days when the team faced a left-hander. Diaz had two hits off Toronto's Ricky Romero on Sunday. Michael Bourn led off the first with a single and moved to third on the first of two doubles by Brian McCann. Sabathia walked Dan Uggla to load the bases. Sabathia faced a similar jam in the seventh. With one out, Prado hit a soft single to right field and moved to third on McCann's double. Sabathia issued an intentional walk to Uggla, loading the bases for Heyward, who replaced Diaz in the seventh. Heyward drove in Prado with a groundout to second base. NOTES: Yankees closer Mariano Rivera said Tuesday's surgery to repair his torn right ACL "went perfectly." Girardi said "I think we're all expecting to see Mo pitch next year."... Gonzalez said RHP Brandon Beachy will be given extra rest, with his next start pushed back to Saturday, due to soreness in his right elbow. Beachy said "I feel fine" after throwing in the bullpen before the game. RHP Tim Hudson, who had his last start skipped due to bone spurs in his left ankle, is returning to start Wednesday's final game of the series against the Yankees. Following an off day on Thursday, RHP Tommy Hanson will pitch on Friday against Baltimore, followed by Beachy. ... Hiroki Kuroda, who is 1-4 with a 2.10 ERA in five career starts against the Braves, will face Hudson on Wednesday night.

It’s World Series or bust for Cubs while carrying Aroldis Chapman’s baggage

It’s World Series or bust for Cubs while carrying Aroldis Chapman’s baggage

Aroldis Chapman is the ultimate baseball mercenary for a team that hasn’t won the World Series since 1908. The Cubs say they are going into this with their eyes wide open, knowing the superstar closer comes with off-the-field baggage and plans to cash in as a free agent this winter.

For all the talking points about being good neighbors and family friendly, the Cubs care about money and winning, which makes them just like any other professional sports franchise.

Chapman behaved in Yankee pinstripes, handled the New York market and performed with game-over efficiency, going 20-for-21 in save chances. The Cubs wanted a lefty with a 105-mph fastball and a 15.2 strikeouts-per-nine-innings-pitched career rate, making a 4-for-1 trade by rationalizing that they would rather be with Chapman in the playoffs than against him.

So the Cubs – and not the first-place Nationals or even-year Giants – had to deal with the bad optics and the lost-in-translation moments before Tuesday’s 3-0 loss to the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. Chapman did not make a good first impression while getting questions about domestic violence and the 30-game suspension Major League Baseball imposed to start this season.

But if Chapman gets the last out in October, does it even matter if he’s a good guy?

“Ugh,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Was Ty Cobb wonderful? I mean, I don’t know. All these different people that I’ve read about – something happened with (the Sox) in, what was it, 1919?

“At the end of the day, I’m here to get to know him on our terms – me and him. (And) he’s been a great teammate from everybody I’ve read or discussed (it) with.

“That’s the lenses I’m looking at it through right now.”

[RELATED: Hector Rondon says Cubs had to take chance and close Chapman deal]

Chapman joined a team that began the day with a 98.8-percent chance to make the playoffs on the Baseball Prospectus odds report and a 56-1 record when leading entering the ninth inning. This is all about what Chapman can do in October and how his presence can help the Cubs survive three postseason rounds.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch highlighted that the Cardinals haven’t scored a run off Chapman since September 2011, back when Tony La Russa managed a World Series team.

“Again, he did do his suspension,” Maddon said. “He has talked about it. He’s shown remorse. And then everybody else has their right to judge him as a good or bad person.

“That’s your right. But I know there are times where I’ve been less than perfect. I think we’ve all been less than perfect in particular moments that nobody’s ever known about. 

“I want to get to know Aroldis. I think he can be a very significant member. And he’s got the potential, yes, to throw the last out of the World Series. And if he does, I promise you, I will embrace him.”

[MORE: Cubs make business decision to look beyond Chapman's domestic violence suspension]

Inside baseball’s conservative bubble, Maddon has to be the game’s most liberal manager, a hands-off, big-picture guy who lets his players run the clubhouse. The Cubs believe his positive vibes and presence will help Chapman’s transition.

“I’m probably the most non-judgmental person you’ve ever met,” Maddon said. “I don’t go in that direction. I do get upset sometimes when people jump to conclusions without knowing everything.

“(Gather) all the information for yourself and make your own opinion. Draw your own conclusion, as opposed to maybe hearing one thing and then all of a sudden jumping on a negative bandwagon.

“I want to get to know him, get to understand him, have good conversations with him. And then, maybe at that point, I could draw some conclusions. But never having been around him, it’s very hard for me to do that.”

Chapman’s Wrigley Field debut will be electric, the triple digits lighting up the huge video board. At that point, the focus should shift back onto baseball. But the equation doesn’t change in a bottom-line business. There is only one outcome that will truly make Cubs fans happy with this deal.

“They expect me to come here, do my job and try to guide us to the World Series,” Chapman said through coach/translator Henry Blanco. “Especially in this city, they haven’t won a World Series in a long time, so they want me to do everything I can to help us win.”

How Joe Maddon helped inspire James Shields' gem over Cubs

How Joe Maddon helped inspire James Shields' gem over Cubs

Joe Maddon's mere presence may have hurt the team he manages Tuesday night.

As the Cubs invaded U.S. Cellular Field for the final night on the South Side of this Crosstown series, Maddon's current team was tasked with facing one of his old friends.

James Shields pitched for Maddon in Tampa Bay for seven years and the veteran right-hander took the hill for the White Sox Tuesday night, spinning a gem — 7.2 shutout innings allowing four singles and four walks.

After the game, Shields — nicknamed "Big Game James" by some — credited Maddon for his outing.

"I get amped up every game pretty much. But I always want to get amped up in front of my old manager," Shields said. "I have a lot of respect for Joe. He helped build me into who I am today. 

"I always want to go out there and show him, especially being 34 years old, that I’ve got this thing."

Maddon certainly noticed.

The Cubs manager admitted "that's what he looks like" when talking about Shields' outing.

The Cubs had pursued Shields in free agency prior to the 2015 season and came close to deal before the right-hander opted to sign with the San Diego Padres for four years and $75 million.

Part of the reason was Shields' competitiveness and desire to finish every game he starts.

"During the first part of the game, I went up to [John] Lackey and I said Shieldsy went to John Lackey Junior College at some point in his life," Maddon said. "I said I used to compare Shieldsy to you all the time back in Tampa Bay, whenever James would [refuse to come out of a game].

"So Johnny giggled about that. Very similar guys — highly competitive, believe they can beat anybody on any given day. You gotta love that about him. He's very good."

White Sox likely will place 2B Brett Lawrie on disabled list

White Sox likely will place 2B Brett Lawrie on disabled list

The White Sox will "probably" place second baseman Brett Lawrie on the disabled list before Wednesday’s Crosstown game at Wrigley Field, manager Robin Ventura said.

Lawrie initially was diagnosed with a tight left hamstring July 21 against the Detroit Tigers, causing a firestorm of speculation he had been traded when he was removed from the game. He was initially considered day-to-day after undergoing an MRI on Friday, and manager Robin Ventura said before both Monday and Tuesday’s games against the Cubs he could’ve been available in an emergency. 

But Lawrie suffered a setback sometime Tuesday, and with two games under National League rules at Wrigley Field requiring more bench pieces, Ventura didn’t want to head to Clark and Addison short-handed. 

“It just seemed like he was going backwards today, during the game, of his knee,” Ventura said. “There's no way you can go over there and play the National League rules with nobody on the bench.”

[MORE: Shields picks up bullpen as White Sox top Cubs again]

Infielder Carlos Sanchez was removed from Triple-A Charlotte’s game Tuesday night and is expected to replace Lawrie on the White Sox roster. 

Lawrie is hitting .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs and 22 doubles over 94 games this season. 

Tyler Saladino has done well in his short stint in the starting lineup since Lawrie’s injury, going 4-15 with a walk. His walk-off single on Monday netted the White Sox their third win in what now is a four-game winning streak, the team’s first since May 6-9.