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The Big Five with … Texas Rangers GM Jon Daniels

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Editor’s note: Tony DeMarco is a contributor to NBCSports.com who has been covering the big leagues since 1987. He’ll interview a guest during each day of the World Series for HardballTalk.com. Here is the first installment:

SAN FRANCISCO — Jon Daniels has been on the job since October of 2005, and remains one of the youngest general managers in the game at age 33. Few would argue his strong candidacy for MLB’s Executive of the Year award as the Texas Rangers have reached their first World Series.

Daniels preferred not to rank the top five developments that got the Rangers where they are. (Although through a smile, he did admit that acquiring Cliff Lee ‘is in the conversation.’)

So we took care of the rankings, and let him provide the commentary:

Beating the New York Yankees to the punch in acquiring Lee: “We credit that to the prospects we had, no doubt. Everything in this game is competition. Between the lines, obviously. But other teams decided they liked our prospects better than our competitors’. And that’s why we got (Cliff) Lee — and (Bengie) Molina. That’s a great endorsement. We’re nowhere without our scouts and our (minor-league) coaches.”

Signing Vladimir Guerrero away from the division-rival Los Angeles Angels: “We’ve competed against him. We’ve been on the wrong side of his heroics for a long time. We had a feeling after meeting with him in January that he was motivated. He knew some people were questioning him, and thought maybe he was on the decline. He felt like he had something to prove.”

Moving C.J. Wilson to the rotation: “C.J. had always wanted to do it, and a few guys in the organization had a vision of what he could do as a starter. Nolan (Ryan) hasn’t been too hands-on with the players, but C.J is one guy he’s had a significant impact with. They have developed a relationship, and he told C.J what kind of adjustments he was going to have to make to succeed.”

The quick rise to stardom of shortstop Elvis Andrus: “He’s 21 years old. How good can he eventually be? I don’t know. We wanted to get more athletic. We wanted to better support our pitching staff. We wanted to be more aggressive on the base paths. He brings an element in each of those categories. He’s been big for us. I don’t ever thing he’s going to be a power hitter, but he’ll eventually show more power than he did this year.”

The emergence of Rookie of the Year candidate Neftali Feliz in the closer role: “We didn’t move C.J to the rotation knowing what Feliz could do. I’d say those were separate deals, because we didn’t make Feliz the closer role coming out of camp. Frankie (Francisco) was the closer, and within a week or so, Feliz took over.”

Video: Aledmys Diaz hits a grand slam in remembrance of Jose Fernandez

ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 21: Aledmys Diaz #36 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits an RBI single against San Diego Padres in the sixth inning at Busch Stadium on July 21, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
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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.

AL East still mathematically undecided as Red Sox lose, Blue Jays win

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 27:  David Price #24 of the Boston Red Sox pitches in the first inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on September 27, 2016 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
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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.