There's nothing quite like playoff fever. It is Sept. 9 and, yes, the Minnesota Twins are in a pennant race. Or at least a wild-card race.
As the standing sit following Tuesday's games, the Twins are 2 1/2 games behind Texas for the second wild-card spot. The New York Yankees (or Toronto, if New York surpasses the Blue Jays in the American League East) seem fairly locked in to the top wild-card spot, with a four-game advantage of the Rangers and 6 1/2 over the Twins.
But that second spot should be a fun one to track over the final three-plus weeks of the season. While Texas is currently leading, the Rangers are just one game out of the AL West as Houston has started to fade some (15-15 in its last 30 games). Minnesota has been playing well (12-8 in last 20 and 17-13 over last 30) and that AL West race could push a team past the Twins in the other direction.
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With 85 percent of the season behind us, here is how the playoff race shapes up for the Twins, Astros and Rangers. We should note the Angels are 1 1/2 games behind Minnesota, but are in something of a freefall (11-19 over last 30).
Games remaining: 24
Opponents/winning percentage: Royals (one game left in series), .601; Indians, .489; Angels, .500; Tigers, .464; Indians, .489; Tigers, .464
Record vs. .500 or better: 21-33
Record vs. less than .500: 50-34
Games remaining: 23
Opponents/winning percentage: A's (one game left in series), .432; Angels, .500; Rangers, .533; A's, .432; Angels, .500; Rangers, .533; Mariners, .475; Diamondbacks, .475
Record vs. .500 or better: 32-26
Record vs. less than .500: 43-38
Games remaining: 25
Opponents/winning percentage: Mariners (two games left in series), .475; A's, .432; Astros, .540; Mariners, .475; A's, .432; Astros, .540; Tigers, .464; Angels, .500
Record vs. .500 or better: 32-28
Record vs. less than .500: 41-36
As you can see, none of the three teams has too difficult a schedule remaining. The Twins might not play a team with a winning record the rest of the way (which, as evidenced by their splits this year, could be a big advantage).
The Rangers and Astros meet seven times -- four in Texas from Sept. 14-17 and three in Houston from Sept. 25-27. If Minnesota can continue to play good baseball, those will be the games to keep an eye on and could make that last week of the season really interesting.
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