Ranking the Most Memorable Grand Slams of the Last 20 Years

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistApril 5, 2020

Ranking the Most Memorable Grand Slams of the Last 20 Years

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Given that grand slams are the rarest home run in baseball, it's no surprise the most memorable of them are legendary.

    Settling on the top 10 over the past two decades is no easy task. But, man, is this journey down memory lane an enjoyable one.

    While both regular-season and playoff games are considered, the latter category deserves a bonus. Grand slams in critical spots during the postseason are extremely special.

    Unfortunately, the 20-year cutoff means Fernando Tatis' two grand slams in the same inning from 1999 missed the cut.

Honorable Mentions

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    Jon Durr/Getty Images

    Miguel Tejada, Oakland A's (2001)

    Not only did Miguel Tejada hit a grand slam, this one finished off a rare achievement. Tejada had already hit a single, double and triple in this September game against the Seattle Mariners, so Tejada hit for the cycle while propelling the A's to an 8-4 win.

                

    Jason Kubel, Minnesota Twins (2009)

    The Twins entered the bottom of the eighth trailing the Los Angeles Angels 9-4. Thanks to Jason Kubel, Minnesota exited the inning up 11-9. Kubel's slam capped a seven-run inning and, like Tejada, completed the cycle in this mid-April contest.

                 

    Ryan Roberts, Arizona Diamondbacks (2011)

    You remember the moment in the backyard or local park; bases loaded with two outs, down three runs. In that situation, a homer is called an ultimate grand slam. Ryan Roberts claims one of 27 in MLB history. His slam bested the Los Angeles Dodgers in September 2011, vaulting Arizona from a 6-3 deficit to 7-6 walk-off celebration.

                

    Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees (2013)

    With an opposite-field shot against the San Francisco Giants, A-Rod smacked his 24th career grand slam and became Major League Baseball's all-time leader in the category. He retired with 25.

                  

    Steve Pearce, Toronto Blue Jays (2017)

    One walk-off slam is legendary. Two in the same week? That's just ridiculous. Steve Pearce accomplished that in July 2017, lifting the Blue Jays over the A's and Angels three days apart.

                

    David Bote, Chicago Cubs (2018)

    Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer struck out 11 batters and surrendered only three hits in seven shutout innings. In other words, the Cubs had no business winning this 4-3. Nevertheless, pinch-hitter David Bote walloped a 442-foot walk-off slam.

10. Bill Mueller, Boston Red Sox (2003)

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    In an otherwise forgettable July matchup against the Texas Rangers, Bill Mueller put together the greatest game of his career.

    The switch-hitting Mueller became the first MLB player to hit grand slams from both sides of the plate. Mueller finished the game 3-for-5 with three homers and nine runs batted in.

    "You never come to the ballpark thinking you're going to do anything like this," he said. "I'm just trying to have some good at-bats, and I guess some of my good at-bats went over the wall tonight."

9. Lance Berkman, Houston Astros (2005)

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    Though a grand slam crushed the Houston Astros latermore on that soonit also sparked their run to the 2005 World Series.

    In Game 4 of the National League Division Series opposite the Atlanta Braves, the Astros won a marathon 18-inning affair. Houston trailed 6-1 in the eighth inning, but Lance Berkman smacked a slam into the Crawford Boxes in left field.

    Houston evened the score in the ninth, and Chris Burke hit a walk-off homer in the 18th. The Astros won 7-6 to clinch the series.

    Note: Braves first baseman Adam LaRoche hit a grand slam earlier in the game too.

8. Paul Konerko, Chicago White Sox (2005)

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    Chicago White Sox legend Paul Konerko proudly owns one of only 20 grand slams in World Series history.

    In 2005, the first baseman clubbed it against the Astros in the seventh inning of Game 2. Chicago trailed 4-2 at the time. Although the Astros clawed back in the ninth, a Scott Podsednik walk-off homer handed the Sox a win anyway.

    Chicago would ultimately sweep the Astros, winning the franchise's first championship in 88 years.

7. Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels (2017)

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    Not the worst way to celebrate a milestone!

    Albert Pujols joined the 600-homer club on June 3, 2017, lining an Ervin Santana pitch over the left-field wall in a 7-2 victory over the Twins. It was the 14th grand slam of Pujols' career.

    "I mean, I'm not the only one, you know?" Santana said after the game. "I'm probably No. 599 of the 600 club. I'm happy for him. I'm glad he got it done."

    Heading into the 2020 season, Pujols is sixth in MLB history with 656 career home runs.

6. Addison Russell, Chicago Cubs (2016)

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    Eleven years after the South Siders celebrated a key grand slam in the World Series, Addison Russell provided that excitement for the Cubs.

    Trailing 3-2 in the series, the Cubs roared to an early 3-0 lead in Game 6. Russell more than doubled the advantage, hammering a 2-0 pitch over the wall. Chicago cruised to a 9-3 victory, and Russell tied a World Series record with six RBI.

    With a thrilling 8-7 victory in Game 7, the Cubs wrapped up their first championship in 108 years.

5. Shane Victorino, Boston Red Sox (2013)

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    If you're a Detroit Tigers fan, yes, you have reached the portion of the article where you should emotionally prepare for sadness.

    The Red Sox smacked two memorable grand slams during the 2013 American League Championship Series. Shane Victorino hit the lattera go-ahead blast in the seventh inning of Game 6 to erase a 2-1 deficit and seal Boston's place in the World Series.

    "I was just trying to tie the game," Victorino said. "I wasn't thinking grand slam, hit it out of the park, any of that. I was just trying to put the ball in play, to give us another chance."

    In the World Series, the Red Sox defeated the Cardinals in six games.

4. Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers (2011)

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    Given the situation, Nelson Cruz only needed a fly ball. In a 3-3 game, the Rangers had the bases loaded with zero outs.

    Cruz went one better.

    During the 11th inning, the All-Star outfielder belted the first walk-off grand slam in postseason history. Texas took a 2-0 ALCS lead and ultimately bounced the Tigers in six games.

    The Rangers would eventually fall to the Cardinals in an exciting seven-game World Series.

3. Johnny Damon, Boston Red Sox (2004)

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    The Red Sox pulled off the unforgettable 3-0 series comeback in the 2004 ALCS against the rival Yankees. And behind Johnny Damon in Game 7, it ended without much nervousness.

    During the second inning, Damon launched the first pitch of reliever Javier Vazquez's night into the right-field seats. Boston took a commanding 6-0 advantage and never looked back. Damon added a two-run shot later in the 10-3 triumph.

    After winning four straight to close the ALCS, Boston swept the Cardinals and snapped an 86-year World Series drought.

2. Howie Kendrick, Washington Nationals (2019)

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    After capitalizing on an error to escape the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Wild Card Game, the Nationals left no doubt here.

    In the decisive Game 5 of the NLDS, Washington stunned the hometown crowd behind a Howie Kendrick blast. During the top of the 10th inning, Kendrick broke the 3-3 deadlock with a rocket off Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly.

    Washington then swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS and outlasted the Astros in a seven-game World Series.

1. David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox (2013)

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    Do you remember the iconic picture of a Boston policeman celebrating a home run? This is that moment.

    Four games before Victorino's clutch slam, David Ortiz changed the course of the 2013 ALCS. Detroit held a 1-0 advantage in the series and a 5-1 lead in Game 2. Had the Tigers taken a 2-0 edge back to Detroit, perhaps the Red Sox wouldn't have advanced.

    That story, however, is merely a hypothetical.

    With two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Ortiz launched the only grand slam of his postseason career. Jarrod Saltalamacchia's walk-off single in the ninth evened the series and effectively placed the Red Sox on their championship course.