Texas left-hander Scott Feldman was shutting out the Tigers on three singles when Sheffield stepped to the plate in the seventh inning with Carlos Guillen on first. He drove a 2-2 pitch down the left-field line and inside the foul pole for his 13th home run of the season, putting the Tigers on the scoreboard and sparking a four-run inning that eventually pushed Detroit in front.
In the process, Sheffield moved into the top 25 on the career homers list by drawing even with McGriff, a fellow Tampa, Fla., native and a teammate with Sheffield on the 1993 Padres, as well as Gehrig. That in itself is a feat for Sheffield, who told reporters last week that matching McGriff was the most meaningful statistical milestone for him.
"That's the one that means the most," Sheffield said of matching McGriff after the game.
The two had talked about the mark when the Tigers had their weekend series at Tampa Bay earlier this month. With the milestone looming for a while, it was a topic they had discussed before the season even began, though injuries slowed his pace early on.
"I knew that I was hurting a little bit earlier [in the season]," Sheffield said, "and I said, 'Now I'm starting to feel like myself every day.' Still, I have an uphill battle to go, but I'm going to get there. I told him I'm going to get back to the 30-, 40-home-run guy. That's pretty much what we talk about more than anything."
McGriff and Gehrig are the last mileposts on the all-time list until the 500-homer mark. Sheffield has eight home runs in 28 games since the All-Star break, a pace that could allow him to threaten the mark by season's end.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.