Nate Freiman, Josh Donaldson, Adam Rosales, Jed Lowrie

Athletics continue tear, move into first place

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With a 4-3 victory over the White Sox tonight, the Athletics moved into first place in the AL West for the first time since April 20, when they were 12-6. Now 38-25, they are winners of 18 of their last 21 contests. The Rangers, who have been treading water for the last three weeks, fell to the Blue Jays 6-1, bringing their record down to 36-24.

Josh Donaldson has been the most surprising source of production for the A’s. Entering tonight’s game, he was his team’s leading hitter with a 153 adjusted OPS, including a .987 OPS over the last 30 days. He hit a grand slam in the sixth inning tonight off of White Sox starter Chris Sale to move the A’s from a 3-0 deficit to a 4-3 lead.

On the pitching side of things, Bartolo Colon looks as good as ever at the ripe age of 40. He has a 3.14 ERA with an AL-best two percent walk rate and 7.67 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Jarrod Parker, the winner of tonight’s affair, has turned things around in the last month (2.41 ERA) after a rough start to the season. Closer Grant Balfour is a perfect 15-for-15 in save opportunities with a 1.37 ERA on the season.

It’s easy to see why they’ve caught on fire.

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.