The New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays, Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox, Oakland A’s, and Los Angeles Angels are all battling for either a division title or to clinch a wild card in the American League.
In the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers are chasing the St. Louis Cardinals, and trail by just two games.
The Orioles and Yankees both want to avoid the wild card, and win the division, while the Rays are looking for a miracle to catch Oakland. The Yankees seem like the safe pick, as the Orioles have been one of the surprise stories of the season.
The Yankees face the Boston Red Sox at home. Boston’s season has been a disaster, but they can take solace in knocking their bitter rivals out of the division title by having a strong series.
The Orioles, who are heading to the playoffs with at least a wild card spot, face a Rays squad that will give it their all with the hope that they can somehow find a way to squeak into the postseason. The Rays have Alex Cobb, Scott Shields, and Jeremy Hellickson on the mound, so Baltimore avoid David Price, but it will still be a tough test on the road.
The Tigers are in the driver’s seat, as the White Sox are three games behind. Detroit won’t have Justin Verlander on the mound in their series on the road against the Kansas City Royals, but the Tigers had a relatively easy time when the two clubs met in late September. It also helps for Detroit that Miguel Cabrera is trying to win a triple crown.
The White Sox are on the road against the Cleveland Indians with Hector Santiago, Jake Peavy, and Gavin Floyd set to start. The Indians took two out of three when the two clubs met in Chicago from Sept. 24-26.
AL WILD CARD
The Orioles have one wild card spot wrapped up, and the Athletics may have the other one in the bag. Oakland have a three-game lead on the Angels and Rays, and there is no real reason to assume they will lose all three games and have the Angels and Rays win all three of their games.
Oakland is at home against Texas, the division winner. The Athletics have Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin on the mound in the series, and both pitchers have been particularly strong at home.
The Angels travel to face the struggling Seattle Mariners, who took one game from them when the two clubs played a three-game series in Anaheim. The Angels will have C.J. Wilson, Dan Haren, and Jared Weaver on the mound, but Felix Hernandez is on the hill for Seattle, and that may be enough to hold off L.A.
The Rays face an Orioles squad that is hungry to win the division for the first time since 1997.
There probably won’t be a miracle finish this time, as Oakland seem poised to avoid a titanic meltdown.
NL WILD CARD
This one is interesting. The Dodgers have Matt Kemp finally playing like a superstar following a pair of injuries in 2012. Kemp is hot, and the Dodgers are starting to put up some runs.
But L.A. will be hosting a San Francisco Giants squad that would take great pleasure in eliminating their main rival. The Dodgers will face two exceptional starters in the series as Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong are enjoying strong seasons. Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano, and Clayton Kershaw are on the hill for the Dodgers, but the L.A. bats will be the major key of this series.
The Cardinals host the Cincinnati Reds, and have Jaime Garcia, Chris Carpenter, and Adam Wainwright on the mound against a Reds squad that are heading to the postseason. The Cards have been hitting the ball well lately, as they just finished a three-game series with the Washington Nationals where they scored 26 runs against quality pitching. Carlos Beltran is coming off a game where he hit home runs from both sides of the plate.
This wild card race might be the wildest.