Last night the Royals staged a late-inning rally to complete a three-game sweep of the Mariners, giving them 10 wins in the past 13 games and a 27-23 mark in 50 games since Ned Yost replaced Trey Hillman as manager.
Kansas City is still just 39-46 overall, which is merely the 21st-best record in baseball, but that puts them only eight games back in the thoroughly mediocre American League Central and suddenly has Yost talking about actually winning the division. Seriously:
You look at today and we’re a good week and a day away from being in first place. That’s the way I look at it. If some guys lose some games, and we get on a bit of a run. We’re in it. I mean, really. Eight days. If things happen. Yeah, I really believe it. Why can’t we make a run? We’ve made a little bit of a run. If we keep winning series and keep playing the way that we’re playing, who knows what can happen?
We’re in a good spot. We just have to continue doing what we’re doing and, slowly but surely, make up ground. We have to continue to pitch the way that we’ve pitched. We’ve got to continue doing what we’ve been doing. There are a lot of things that have to go right but, heck yeah, we still think we’re in it.
Even in baseball’s weakest division it’s tough to take the Royals’ too seriously as contenders until they actually get above .500, but Yost going 27-23 after Hillman went 12-23 this season and 152-207 during his three-year tenure deserves some notice.
Cardinals shortstop Aledmys Diaz was childhood friends with Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, so it was expected when Diaz took time away from the team on Monday to visit Fernandez’s family in Miami. They grew up on the same street in Cuba and played for the same youth baseball team and both would ultimately wind up playing Major League Baseball in the United States.
In the bottom of the fourth inning of Tuesday night’s game against the Reds, Diaz hit a 2-1 Robert Stephenson fastball out to left-center field for a no-doubt grand slam. Teammate Yadier Molina gave Diaz a tight hug as he crossed home plate.
Before Tuesday’s game, Diaz said that the best way to honor Fernandez was to play with his passion, as MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports. Diaz said, “I only play for [Fernandez’s] family right now.”
Here’s the video.
The Red Sox would have clinched the AL East if one of two things happened on Tuesday night: the Red Sox themselves beat the Yankees, or the Orioles defeated the Blue Jays. Neither happened.
The Jays soundly took down the Orioles 5-1 behind six strong innings from Aaron Sanchez. Josh Donaldson went 2-for-2 with a two-run home run and a pair of walks and leadoff batter Ezequiel Carrera went 2-for-3 with a solo homer, an RBI single, a walk, and three runs scored.
Meanwhile, at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees outlasted the Red Sox for a 6-4 win, responding to both two-run innings the Sox had in the sixth and seventh with a run in the sixth and two in the seventh. Gary Sanchez hit his 20th homer of the season. Didi Gregorius and Tyler Austin also contributed dingers. Starter Luis Cessa pitched well, limiting the Sox to two runs over six innings on five hits and a walk with two strikeouts. Red Sox starter David Price struggled, yielding six runs in 6 1/3 innings. Yankees reliever Tyler Clippard got into trouble in the ninth inning but was able to wiggle out of trouble to finish out the game.
Once again, the Red Sox will be able to clinch the AL East on Wednesday with a win over the Yankees or a Blue Jays loss to the Orioles.