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.

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Matt Niskanen out vs. Oilers; Caps prospect could make NHL debut

Matt Niskanen out vs. Oilers; Caps prospect could make NHL debut

Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen will not suit up Friday against Connor McDavid and the surging Oilers, Coach Barry Trotz said.

Niskanen was injured Wednesday night in Philadelphia and is listed as day-to-day with a lower body injury.

It’ll mark the second game the big-minute blue liner has missed this season.

It’s also unclear if Brooks Orpik will play against Edmonton. Orpik did not practice Thursday as he rested a nagging lower body ailment. The veteran defenseman did not participate in Friday’s optional morning skate, either.

Orpik will take the pregame warmup at Verizon Center, Trotz said. If he’s unable to go, he’ll be replaced in the lineup by Aaron Ness, who is up from Hershey.

Orpik has played in all 59 games this season.

It’s also possible that prospect Riley Barber will make his NHL debut against the Oilers. Barber, who joined the team from Hershey, will take the warmup and would suit up if an ailing forward can’t.

Trotz did not divulge which forward is “a little bit nicked up.”

RELATED: CAPS HOPEFUL NISKANEN'S INJURY ISN'T SERIOUS

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Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice?

Will Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Finlay: The better question might be what constitutes the next step for Cousins? And going one step further, will it be with the Redskins? Answering the second part first, Cousins will be the 'Skins quarterback in 2017. Taking the next step is trickier, since the passer has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in the last two seasons.

For me, Cousins can still get much better, particularly in the red zone. If the Redskins scored at the same pace they pile up yards, this team would have won 11 games in 2016. 

In 2016, Cousins ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, yet outside of the Top 10 in TDs with 25. To really enter the next phase of his career, Cousins needs to lead an offense that scores more, and that means 30+ touchdowns. He can do it. 

Tandler: I don’t look at the next step for Cousins being about numbers. Sure, maybe he can throw for 5,000 yards and 30-plus touchdowns on year. But being a top quarterback is more than that.

I want to see him go into Seattle next year and rally the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. I want to see him go into a playoff game and, unlike what happened against the Packers after the 2015 season, will the team to a win when the Redskins aren’t playing their best and when a QB like Aaron Rodgers is on the other side. I want to see him glare at a lineman who missed an assignment and correct a receiver who went the wrong way on a route.

To be sure, he has led the team to some comeback wins and he has played very well in some key games, like the division-clinching win in Philadelphia in 2015. But a top-flight quarterback can’t essentially negate one of those with a play like the season-ending pick against the Giants. Sure, any quarterback is going to have an off day. But you have to have more pluses than minuses on the ledger.

Cousins has been a starter for just two years so maybe he can develop into a top-shelf quarterback. Putting up good stats is part of the picture but he won’t be there until he elevates and motivates those around him. Maybe he can take that next step but until he does there is no way of knowing if he will. 

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

— Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?

— Defense in the first round?

— Will they make a change at left guard?

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTuneshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!