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.”

And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Yankees 2, Twins 1: Aaron Judge hit a solo homer and Jamie Garcia struck out nine and allowed only an unearned run in five and two-thirds. Things stayed close and got shaky in the eighth for New York as Dellin Betances hit the first batter he faced, uncorked a wild pitch and walked two more to load the bases with only one out. Aroldis Chapman came in and put out the fire, however, with two quick outs and stayed in for the ninth to complete the five-out save. That’s great and all, but if the Yankees are gonna do anything in October, they had better fix Betances first.

Red Sox 10, Orioles 8: Baltimore took an early 5-0 lead and then Dustin Pedroia had to leave after he bounced a ball off the plate on a check swing that came back up and smacked his nose, giving him a nasal contusion. It would get better, however, as the Sox rallied for a run that frame and six in the fifth inning. A Xander Bogaerts homer in the seventh would tie things up at eight and then Andrew Benintendi hit a two-run single in the 11th inning to give Boston the lead and, eventually, the game.  Mookie Betts had four RBI and Bogaerts wold score three times. The Orioles have lost 10 of 12.

Phillies 4, Dodgers 3: Clayton Kershaw had faced 103 batters in his career with bases loaded without allowing a grand slam. He would not make it 104. Aaron Altherr would come to the plate with the bases juiced in the sixth and he launched a long one to left to give the Phillies all of their runs and, it turned out, the only runs they’d need. This after L.A. led off the game with two home runs from their first two batters, the first being an inside-the-park number from Chris Taylor. Justin Turner would follow him with a conventional homer and Curtis Granderson added one in the top of the ninth, but it couldn’t make up for Altherr’s salami. Chase Utley returned to Philly. He went 0-for-2, but got a standing ovation from the Phaithful at Citizens Bank Park when he first came to bat. That’s nice to see.

Brewers 3, Pirates 0Brent Suter shut out Pittsburgh for five innings and four relievers took it the rest of the way. Ryan Braun homered and former Pirate Neil Walker knocked in a run. Travis Shaw‘s RBI single rounded out the scoring as Milwaukee pulled to within three and a half games of the idle Cubs in the NL Central and two games behind the idle Rockies for the final NL Wild Card.

Athletics 8, Tigers 3:  Matt Olson homered for his fourth straight game and Jed Lowrie drove in three runs. Raul Alcantara was pressed into service as an emergency starter after Jharel Cotton tweaked his groin just before game time. Some scary business late as Tigers reliever Jeff Ferrell left the game in the eighth inning after getting hit in the head by a 102.6 mph line drive off the bat of Ryon Healy. Amazingly, Ferrell seems to be OK. He never went down, walked off the field under his own power and was alert and responsive the entire time.

Marlins 13, Mets 1: Giancarlo Stanton hit his 55th homer and drove in four as the Marlins routed Matt Harvey and the Mets. Every Marlin starter had at least one hit. Marcell Ozuna had four hits, including a homer. Dee Gordon also had four, including a two-run triple. Ichiro had two hits and an RBI. Brian Anderson drove in two runs with a triple. The line on Harvey: seven runs on twelve hits in four innings. He’s been basically terrible since he came off the disabled list. It’ll be interesting to see what the Mets do with their former ace in the offseason.

Padres 4, Diamondbacks 2: The Padres scored three in the first on a Hunter Renfroe three-run homer and added one in the second on an Austin Hedges solo shot. That’s all they’d need as Luis Perdomo gave them a workmanlike five and a third, allowing a pair of RBI singles and nothing else, and four relievers shut out the Snakes the rest of the way.

Aaron Altherr hit the first ever grand slam off of Clayton Kershaw

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Entering Monday’s start against the Phillies, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw had made 287 starts and pitched 1,917 innings over parts of 10 seasons. He’s done a lot of things, like winning a Cy Young Award, an MVP Award, winning 20 games, posting a sub-2.00 ERA. One thing he had never done is allow a grand slam.

Kershaw had loaded the bases 103 times coming into Monday’s action. Batters hit .193/.233/.250 off of him with 17 hits, of which only five went for extra bases (all doubles). In 2017, opposing hitters were 0-for-6 with five strikeouts with the bags packed.

Phillies outfielder Aaron Altherr changed that in a big way. In the bottom of the sixth inning, trailing 2-0, the Phillies loaded the bases on a Ty Kelly walk, a Freddy Galvis single, and a Rhys Hoskins walk, bringing up Altherr. After running the count even at 1-1, Altherr blasted a grand slam into the second deck at Citizens Bank Park for the first grand slam ever hit off of Kershaw. According to Statcast, the ball left his bat at 107.6 MPH and went 418 feet.

Following the grand slam, Altherr improved his slash line to .276/.348/.521 along with 17 home runs, 55 RBI, and 51 runs scored in 362 plate appearances.

Kershaw was lifted after six innings. He gave up the four runs on four hits and two walks with six strikeouts. He still owns a sterling 17-3 record with a 2.26 ERA and a 194/30 K/BB ratio in 163 innings on the season.