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.
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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