Texas Rangers v Seattle Mariners

The good Derek Holland showed up last night

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Derek Holland pitched his second straight shutout last night, helping the Rangers to a 5-0 win over the Mariners. In fact, it was his third shutout in his last eight starts. He has more shutouts this season than Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver, and Clayton Kershaw.

But the man is not consistent.  In between shutout number one and shutout number two he had a stretch of five starts, four of which were pretty bad, one of which was a win, though not a particularly impressive one.  Before that first shutout there were a lot of crooked numbers too. On the year he has a 4.32 ERA and has allowed 125 hits and has walked 42 guys in 118 innings.

I’m fascinated when guys go on runs like this.  Is he as good as he looks when he’s good? Is he as bad as he looks when he’s bad?  Are the recent good performances a sign that something has clicked and we’re about to see a Cliff Lee-style career pivot?  Or are we really seeing the games we’ll point to a couple of years from now when we say “look, he always had potential, but …”

Maybe it’s a less-than-deep thought, but I’m sitting here right now, just marveling over the fact that we’ve been playing organized baseball for for close to 150 years and we still really have no idea about how pitching works. Or at least why some guys put it together and some don’t. At least not until after they’ve either succeeded and failed and we give our post-hoc explanations.

What’s Derek Holland gonna do?  I have no idea. And I think that’s pretty neat.

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)
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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)
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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.