Texas finds itself with an inside track to clinching, while the Cleveland Indians and Baltimore Orioles loom closely behind.
Texas Rangers (83-69)
Texas has slumped its way out of the A.L. West race thanks to a 3-11 mark in its last 14 games, but can still back into playoff berth over the next week. Ron Washington’s club completes its present road trip this weekend in Kansas City (80-72), followed by seven home dates with matchups against the Houston Astros (51-102) and Los Angeles Angels (74-78).
Tampa Bay Rays (83-69) & Baltimore Orioles (81-71)
Tampa Bay is clinging onto the second wild card spot, while the Baltimore Orioles are just two games back. The foes meet this weekend for four contests at Tropicana Field, with Rays southpaw David Price on the hill as ‘chalk’ in Friday’s opener.
Price and Co. then hit the road for a pair of three-game sets with the New York Yankees (80-73) and Toronto Blue Jays (70-82). Baltimore heads home to finish its season in the confines of Camden Yards, facing Toronto and the Boston Red Sox (93-61).
The Orioles have been winning some close contests for our baseball picks, with four victories in their last six games by two runs or less. Tampa Bay has dropped three of their last five battles, outscored by a combined 26-17 margin.
Cleveland Indians (83-70)
Cleveland draws a favorable remaining schedule, which could quickly put Terry Francona’s club in the driver’s seat over Tampa Bay and Baltimore. The Indians host Houston for three games this weekend, followed by continuing their homestand with two matchups against the Chicago White Sox (60-92).
Francona’s solid late stretch experience should begin surfacing here, while his troops get to finish the year with a four-game road set against the Minnesota Twins (65-87). Cleveland heads into the weekend with a 6-2 surge over its last eight duels, notching a sizable 5.2 RPG.
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Kansas City Royals & New York Yankees
Kansas City and New York remain the American League’s darkest horses for a playoff spot, needing their share of help.
The Royals finish the year with a seven-game road trip, heading to meet the White Sox and Seattle Mariners (67-86). Kansas City has lost back-to-back games just once since Aug. 25, logging a 16-8 mark over its last 24 matchups.
New York had its chances recently to pick up ground on its rivals, but fell flat with a 1-5 stretch this week over sets in Boston and Toronto. The Yankees host Tampa Bay for three matchups next week, but will likely just be spoilers by then.
See my National League Wildcard article here.