A. L. Race is for Final Spot

YanksVOsPettitteWhen Major League Baseball went to a second Wild Card in each league they had this season in mind. Without that extra wild card, there would be nothing of much interest going on in the A. L playoff races. All we would be wondering is who will win the West Between the Oakland A’s  and Texas Rangers, but it really wouldn’t matter much because both would be headed for the divisional round.

But now, with the Wild Card Playoff, not only is the race for the second wild card spot very important, but the race between the A’s and Rangers matters too. The A’s /Rangers loser is going to have to play in that game. Their opponent? Who knows? There are five teams within two games going into Thursday’s action.

In the lead but fading fast is the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays cannot seem to win a game these days as they have now lost 12 of 16. Their once safe playoff spot is now in serious danger. They were fighting the Boston Red Sox for the A. L. East a little over two weeks ago. That is no longest on the table. They went into a series last two weeks ago against the A’s with the top wild card spot on the line and were promptly swept. Now they are just clinging. By next week, look for them to be completely out of the race and looking forward to next season.

The New York Yankees trail by one game. They would be a favorite to claim this spot if not for the fact that Derek Jeter is now done for the season. Their pitching is hanging on by a thread. They have an extremely tired bullpen which the Red Sox exposed a week ago. Guess who the Yanks play this weekend?Alfonso Soriano has found the old form back that he showed as a young player for the Yankees during their dynasty of the late 1990’s and early 2000s.

The Baltimore Orioles are a game and a half behind the Rays. They should be winning this race. They have big time power hitting in Chris Davis and Adam Jones and a very good third baseman in Manny Machado. If you are the Rangers or A’s you probably do not want to see the Orioles in a one game playoff.

The Cleveland Indians are tied with the Orioles at 77-68. Terry Francona has done a great job with the Indians in his first season there. They have been relatively quiet going about their business and now with less than three weeks to go they find themselves in a pennant race. They will have a chance to make up ground this weekend as they take on the woeful Chicago White Sox.

The Kansas City Royals have also refused to go away. They have been bad for so long that nobody pays much attention to them. But here they are only two games out of the playoffs. The bad news is they travel to take on the Detroit Tigers.

Who wins this thing is really anybody’s guess. The Rays would seem to have the best pitching, but for a month and a half they haven’t been able to hit their way out of a wet paper bag. The Yankees and O’s have enough offense, but do they have enough pitching? The Indians and Royals are the “feel good” stories, but how will they handle the pressure of the next two weeks? This is going to be fun to watch.

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