Rounding Third: American League ... we are waiting

While four of the five playoff spots in the National League are set, the American League has still yet to punch a single ticket to the postseason heading into action on Sunday.

So let's take a look at where the AL divisions and wild cards stand, as we head into the final week of the regular season.


The New York Yankees have been in first place in some capacity since June 11, but haven't seen their lead grow to more than two games since Sept. 2. As we head into action on Sunday their lead is none, as the surprising Baltimore Orioles have joined them atop the standings with four games to play.

New York seemingly has the edge heading into the final week, as it closes its regular season at home against the lowly Boston Red Sox, while the Orioles cap their campaign with three games against the Tampa Bay Rays, who may or may not need the games depending on what happens Sunday.

Still, the advantage goes to the Yankees, as Joe Maddon will have his Rays ready to compete regardless if the games are meaningless for his club or not.

Either way, barring a massive collapse, both teams will still be in the postseason thanks to the extra wild card. Obviously, though, neither wants to be in that wild card game on Friday.

PREDICTION: NEW YORK wins a one-game playoff in Baltimore on Thursday to win the division.


On Saturday the Detroit Tigers were able to move two games up on the free- falling Chicago White Sox. Two games with four to play should be enough for a Tigers team that was picked by just about everyone to run away with the AL Central at the start of the season.

This is almost a case of Chicago losing the division than the Tigers winning, it though, as the White Sox have lost nine of 11 to relinquish control of first place.

After Detroit plays Minnesota on Sunday it will host the lowly Kansas City Royals for three games, while Chicago visits the lowly Cleveland Indians. Unlike the other two divisions, though, neither team will have the wild card to fall back on.

The bigger thing to watch with regards to this division this week will be whether or not Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera becomes the first player since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 to win a Triple Crown.

Cabrera currently leads the American League with a .327 average, 136 RBI and is tied with Texas' Josh Hamilton with 43 home runs.

PREDICTION: DETROIT wins the division and Cabrera nabs a Triple Crown.


The Texas Rangers have sat atop the American League West by themselves every day since April 9. But here we are with five games to play (including a doubleheader on Sunday) and the Rangers' lead is only 2 1/2 games over the never-say die Oakland Athletics.

Of course, the Rangers visit Oakland for three games to close the regular season.

Now a doubleheader sweep over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will go a long way in easing people's minds in Arlington, but that's no sure thing. The Angels are hot as a pistol at the moment, fighting for a wild card themselves and will have Zack Greinke on the hill in game one.

Still, the odds are stacked against the A's, who still have the wild card to fall back on, provided they don't go into the tank the final three games.

PREDICTION: TEXAS wins its third straight AL West crown and finishes with the AL's top record.


You could not have picked more improbable choices to be at the top of the wild card standings in the AL. Baltimore hasn't had a winning season since the year of its last playoff appearance in 1997 and nobody expected much from the A's this year given the division they played in.

But, the A's have taken advantage of the Angels' early season struggles and now find themselves on the cusp of their first playoff appearance in six years.

The Angels have made a valiant attempt here with wins in six of their last seven, but will likely fall short. The big question for them heading into this offseason will be whether or not manager Mike Scioscia is the scapegoat.

PREDICTION: OAKLAND gets the other wild card and will head to BALTIMORE to face the Orioles in the first-ever one-game wild card contest.