Alex Rodriguez didn't take long to move into sole possession of fourth place on the all-time home run leaderboard.
After hitting home run No. 660 to pull into a tie with Willie Mays last Friday, A-Rod swatted No. 661 in Thursday's win over the Orioles. There was no doubt about it, either, as Rodriguez crushed a Chris Tillman pitch deep to left-center field to pass Mays on the list.
Rodriguez spoke with reverence about Mays before he tied the record last week, and he acknowledged the unlikelihood of it all after Thursday's game.
"All of this is pretty crazy," Rodriguez said. "A year ago today I never thought I would get a curtain call, be hitting in the middle of the lineup for the New York Yankees, helping our team win. Or when I started playing baseball at the Boys and Girls Club in Miami when I was nine years old."
It may be the last home run milestone A-Rod reaches for a while, if ever. With Mays cleared, Babe Ruth's 714 mark is the next on the list. Rodriguez, 39, would likely need to play regularly and perform at an above-average rate for the next 2 1/2 seasons to reach that mark. His contract with the Yankees runs through the 2017 season.
For this year, the blast added to an already strong showing from the designated hitter through the season's first month-plus. A-Rod now has seven homers in 2015, fourth-most among American League hitters, and he owns an .883 OPS in 27 games. Rodriguez also singled in Thursday's win and added an RBI with a sacrifice fly.
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Yasmani Grandal has been on a tear of late, and he put an exclamation point on the hot streak Thursday.
The Dodgers catcher single-handedly defeated the Brewers Thursday afternoon, going 4-for-4 with two three-run home runs and eight RBI in the 14-4 rout. Grandal finished with three runs scored and also walked twice, reaching base in all six of his plate appearances.
With the tremendous afternoon, Grandal is now 12-for-17 with three doubles, three homers, 10 RBI and five runs scored in his last five games. The blistering stretch has raised his batting average from .217 to .301 in that five-game span.
Grandal's hot hitting wasn't the case early in the season. The catcher, whom the Dodgers acquired from the Padres in the Matt Kemp deal this winter -- started the season 6-for-32. Grandal said a minor shoulder problem contributed to his issues, and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly attributed some of Grandal's recent success to getting comfortable in his new surroundings as well.
"You come over, you're a guy that nobody knows, really," Mattingly said. "They know you in spring training — that doesn't really count. And all of a sudden you're not swinging the bat that great early on. I felt like he was pressing there."
It just so happens that D.J. Short touted Grandal in Thursday's Waiver Wired column -- surely a coincidence -- and if owners weren't racing to the wire to add him before Thursday, they will be now.
Salty Lands With The Snakes
Jarrod Saltalamacchia found his new home Thursday, but he's not being guaranteed much else.
Saltalamacchia, who was released by the Marlins on Tuesday, signed a minor league deal with the Diamondbacks Thursday. The catcher will report to Triple-A Reno.
That much is certain, but Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale offered few other certainties about the situation.
"He's going to go to (Triple-A) Reno to play and we'll see where we're at," Hale said. "It's hard right now. I've got this group right here, and we're focused on winning tonight, this series. I can't say he'll get so many at-bats and he'll be here. We have to assess what we have and what's going to make us better."
In theory, the 30-year-old should easily beat out veteran backup Tuffy Gosewisch and unproven Jordan Pacheco for the job, but Saltalamacchia was just 2-for-29 (.069) with the Marlins before his release. The Diamondbacks will also have promising Rule 5 pick Oscar Hernandez back soon, further complicating the situation.
If Saltalamacchia takes over regular catching duties in Arizona and performs close to a level he's capable of offensively, he becomes a nice back-end option in two-catcher leagues. Given that Jonathan Lucroy, Devin Mesoraco and Yan Gomes, among others, have sustained injuries in the early part of the season, Saltalamacchia's progress is certainly something to keep an eye on.
National League Quick Hits: Speaking of Gosewisch, the suddenly-threatened catcher had a big night at the plate Thursday. Gosewisch doubled in each of his first three at-bats, collecting four RBI as the Diamondbacks rolled the Padres ... Adam Ottavino underwent Tommy John surgery Thursday. The right-hander, who was the Rockies' heir apparent at closer prior to injuring his elbow, won't be back until early next year at the earliest ... The Cardinals, needing a strong outing from their rotation, got one Thursday from John Lackey. The veteran struck out 10 while allowing one run over 7 2/3 innings in a win over the Cubs ... Zack Cozart (wrist) sat out again Thursday against the Pirates. Cozart has been sidelined since injuring the hand and wrist Sunday, but X-rays were negative and the Reds hope he'll be back sooner than later ... Rubby De La Rosa was sharper than he needed to be Thursday, tossing seven shutout innings in a lopsided victory. De La Rosa struck out seven over his seven innings, allowing just three hits and two walks on the evening.
American League Quick Hits: The longest active games-started streak in baseball ended Thursday when Evan Longoria was scratched due to flu-like symptoms. Longoria had started 198 straight games and had appeared in 270 consecutive contests prior to Thursday. The good news is that it's merely an illness and he should start a new streak soon ... Masahiro Tanaka (elbow) made 50 throws from 60 feet Thursday. He got through it without issue, a step in the right direction after being shut down with a right forearm strain in late April. There remains no definite timetable for his return, although the Yankees said they hoped to have him back by late May when he hit the shelf ... J.J. Hardy was activated from the disabled list Thursday after missing the first month of the season with a left shoulder strain. Hardy went 0-for-4 in his return to the lineup ... Kyle Lobstein turned in another strong start Thursday, holding the White Sox to just an unearned run over 7 2/3 innings. Lobstein has registered quality starts in three of his last four outings, and the southpaw is now 3-2 with a 3.00 ERA in five starts ... Kelvin Herrera began serving his six-game suspension Thursday. The reliever got five games for throwing at Brett Lawrie and two for his role in a bench-clearing brawl with the White Sox, and his appeal with MLB only yielded a one-game reduction ... Brett Gardner (neck) returned to the Yankees' lineup in style Thursday, collecting two hits, including a double, and scoring twice in the win.