The race for the two wild card playoff berths in the American League is, well, wild.
Texas currently holds the first wild card spot, but now leads Tampa Bay by just one game, as the Rays hold the second wild card spot.
Beyond that, four teams, including the Orioles, are within 3 1/2 games of Tampa, meaning those same four teams are now within 4 1/2 games of a Texas team that has lost nine of its last 11 games. The Rangers have a road trip upcoming next week to Tampa Bay and Kansas City.
Early next week should be very interesting. While the Orioles are at Boston, Texas plays a four-game series at Tampa Bay and Cleveland is at Kansas City for three.
In the chase for that second wild card, Tampa is 1 1/2 games up on Cleveland, two ahead of New York, 2 1/2 games up on the Orioles and 3 1/2 games ahead of Kansas City.
For the Orioles, those six remaining games with Boston figure to be tough to win. A few weeks back, fans were glad to see them on the schedule thinking the Orioles could go head-to-head with the AL East leader and try to catch them. Now they will be must-win games against a very hot club.
Tampa Bay ends its year with four games at home against the Orioles, then six on the road, and the Rays are a 35-38 road club.
Cleveland has the softest schedule, playing its final 10 against Houston, the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota. Every year, it seems a bad team steps up to win games and ruin it for a contender. So don’t put those all in the win column for the Tribe yet.
By the way, the Yankees end their season with three games at Houston. How did that happen? End the year with Houston? Strange.
Here are the remaining schedules for Tampa Bay and the four clubs chasing the Rays:
Tampa Bay: Two at Minnesota, four vs. Texas, four vs. Orioles, three at New York Yankees, three at Toronto.
Cleveland: Two at Chicago White Sox, three at Kansas City, four vs. Houston, two vs. Chicago White Sox, four at Minnesota.
New York: Two at Boston, three at Toronto, three vs. San Francisco, three vs. Tampa Bay, three at Houston.
Orioles: Two at Toronto, three at Boston, four at Tampa Bay, three vs. Toronto, three vs. Boston.
Kansas City: Two at Detroit, three vs. Cleveland, three vs. Texas, three at Seattle, three at Chicago White Sox.
So how do you see this going? Did the Orioles’ win last night encourage you any after the three losses to the Yankees? Will Cleveland’s soft schedule put the Indians in the postseason for the first time since 2007? What surprises might we see the rest of the way?
Update: The Orioles missed a chance to gain ground on the Rangers and Yankees in the wild card race, falling 4-3 in Toronto. Colby Rasmus hit a go-ahead two-run homer off Chris Tillman in the seventh inning.