AL Wild Card standings through Sunday, September 15:
|Team||W - L||GB||RS||RA||DIFF||FanGraphs Wild Card Odds|
There aren't recaps for the division leaders in this post, but here's the short version: The Red Sox went 5-1 last week, and have a 9.5 game lead in the race for the AL's best record. The Athletics went 5-1, and have a 6.5 game lead in the West. The Tigers went 4-2, and have 5 game lead in the Central.
Here's a look at each Wild Card contender's action from last week:
Texas Rangers (0-6)
The Rangers hosted the Pirates to begin their week and in Monday's opener Yu Darvish was out-dueled by Pittsburgh rookie (and 2011's #1 overall pick) Gerrit Cole. Darvish allowed just 1 run in 7 innings, but the Texas offense managed only 4 hits all night and lost 1-0. The bats woke up for 13 hits Tuesday, including 3 by Alex Rios, but they led to only 4 runs. Martin Perez wasn't particularly sharp on the mound and the Rangers fell again, 5-4. Wednesday was much the same, as Matt Garza made it through only 4 innings and Texas was swept.
The weekend brought Oakland to town, giving the Rangers a last gasp chance to get back into the AL West race. Derek Holland was pulled after allowing 6 runs in 3+ innings. Texas scored 6 runs in the 8th, pulling to within a run, but they couldn't complete the comeback, losing 9-8. Darvish struck out 10 in 7 innings Saturday, but just as they had in his previous start, the lineup did nothing to help, and the Rangers lost 1-0. They fell behind 2-0 in the 1st inning Sunday, and that was too big a deficit. The final ending up being 5-1, leaving Texas with a disastrous 0-6 week, taking them for contention for the best record in the AL, to a desperate fight for a Wild Card spot.
Player of the Week: Adrian Beltre (.375/.423/.417, 9 H, 1 2B, 2 RBI)
More about the Rangers at Lone Star Ball
Tampa Bay Rays (3-3)
The Rays were at home to play the Red Sox. David Price struck out 9 in 8 strong innings Tuesday, giving up just 2 runs. The bats were silenced by the return of Boston's Clay Buchholz (after three months out) and Tampa Bay lost 2-0. The Rays fell behind early Wednesday, but tied the game up in the 8th on a James Loney home run. Joel Peralta and Roberto Hernandez combined to load the bases in the 10th though, before Hernandez gave up a grand slam, sending TB to another loss. They avoided being swept though, getting 3.2 scoreless frames from the bullpen and a double from Wil Myers that plated Evan Longoria for the go ahead run in the 8th inning of a 4-3 win.
The weekend brought a trip to Minnesota, lovely this time of year. Chris Archer struck out 7 in 6 shutout innings Friday night, the bullpen was solid and the lineup did enough to give Tampa Bay a 3-0 win. Matt Moore didn't allow any runs Saturday, but was pulled after only 3 innings. The relief corp took over without skipping a beat, and Desmond Jenningsand Evan Longoria each had a pair of hits in another win, this time 7-0. David Price kept the scoreless streak going into the 7th Sunday, when he was lifted after allowing a couple base runners. Those two base runners scored though, and another four crossed the plate in the 8th, sticking the Rays with a 6-4 loss.
Player of the Week: Yunel Escobar (.389/.500/.611, 7 H, 4 2B, 4 R)
More about the Rays at D-Rays Bay
Cleveland Indians (5-2)
The Indians looked to finish off the Royals chances when they hosted them in a 3-game series. Ubaldo Jimenez allowed only an unearned run in 7 innings, striking out 10 while walking no one. Asdrubal Cabrera, Yan Gomes, and Carlos Santana each homered in a 4-3 win. Zach McAllister had his third-straight mediocre start Tuesday, and the Tribe was only able to turn 12 hits in 3 runs and was defeated. Scott Kazmir gave up a home run on the first pitch of Wednesday game, and made it through just 4 innings. The offense put up only 4 measly singles all game and the Indians lost 6-2.
The Tribe then traveled to Chicago for four games with the White Sox. Cleveland scored 4 in the 1st inning Thursday, which, as it turns out, would have been enough, but they kept going instead, eventually winning 14-3. Nick Swisher,Ryan Raburn, and Cabrera each homered in the romp. The offense slowed down Friday, and Danny Salazar lasted only 3.2 innings (though he did strike out 9), but the bullpen was strong and the Indians won 3-1. Cabrera and Lonnie Chisenhall homered Saturday, but the story was Jimenez, who went 8.1 innings, striking out 8, allowing only 1 run in another victory. He's been one of the best pitchers in baseball during the second half. Sunday's game was delayed for 4.5 hours by rain, but the Tribe pounced when the game finally started. Swisher homered twice, Cabrera hit his fourth of the week, and Matt Carson hit one too. For the third time in 2013, the Indians swept a 4-game set with the White Sox.
Player of the Week: Ubaldo Jimenez (2 starts 15.1 IP, 1 ER, 15 H, 1 BB, 18 K)
More about the Indians at Let's Go Tribe
Baltimore Orioles (3-4)
The Orioles had a big 4-game series with the Yankees, which started off well, with Chris Tillman continuing his fine season, striking out 9 in 7 innings in a 4-2 win. Baltimore was ahead again Tuesday, leading 4-3 in the 8th. The bullpen came apart though, and the O's lost 7-5. Wednesday was the same story, as Scott Feldman gave up only 3 runs in 7.2 innings and Davis drove in a pair of runs with his 40th double, but the bullpen faltered in the 9th, and Baltimore fell 5-4. The Orioles fell behind early on Thursday, then rallied to tie the game in the 8th, only to have Jim Johnson allow a run in the 9th, giving him loss #8 on the season, second-most among all MLB relievers.
It was off to Canada to play the Blue Jays next. Baltimore was down 3-0 in the 7th Friday night, but doubles by J.J. Hardy and Steve Clevenger helped them tie the game, and then in the 8th, they took the lead on Davis' 50th home run of the season. That made him only the 3rd player in history with 50+ HR and 40+ 2B in the same season, joining Babe Ruth and Albert Belle. The O's won 5-3. On Saturday, Manny Machado collected his 50th double of the year, joiningAlex Rodriguez as the only players to hit that many in their age-20 season, but that wasn't enough to avoid a 4-3 loss. Miguel Gonzalez allowed just 1 run Sunday, but left with a sore groin. The bullpen made the 3-1 lead they were handed stand up, as Baltimore took the game and the series.
Player of the Week: Chris Davis (.269/.345/.577, 7 H, 2 HR, 2 2B, 7 RBI)
More about the Orioles at Camden Chat
New York Yankees (3-4)
The Yankees traveled to Baltimore for a key 4-game set. CC Sabathia pitched reasonably well, going 7.1 innings and allowing 4 runs (3 earned), but the bats were kept at bay and New York fell 4-2. The offense did much better Tuesday, putting up 7 extra-base hits, including a pair of home runs from Alfonso Soriano, pushing the Yankees to a 7-5 win.Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, and Robinson Cano each homered Wednesday night, as New York won 5-4. Phil Hughes was pulled after only 3 innings Thursday, despite having allowed only 1 run. David Robertson struggled in the 8th, but home runs by Mark Reynolds and Granderson helped the Yankees win anyway. Dampening the mood: Brett Gardner left early with a strained oblique, and could be out for the season.
Next up were 3 games at Fenway. Hiroki Kuroda gave up 5 runs in 6+ innings in the opener and New York lost 8-4, despite 4 hits from Cano (including 3 doubles). CC Sabathia wound up with the same pitching line, 5 runs in 6 innings, in Saturday's game, and this time the Yankees managed only 3 hits, falling 5-1. They fell behind early in Sunday night's finale and never recovered. They were swept and officially eliminated from AL East contention. The loss dropped them to 6-13 against Boston this year. That's the most regular season losses to the Red Sox that the Yankees have had since 1973.
Player of the Week: Alex Rodriguez (.273/.407/.636, 6 H, 5 BB, 2 HR)
More about the Yankees at Pinstriped Bible
Kansas City Royals (3-3)
The Royals had a pivotal series in Cleveland to start their week, needing to take 2 of 3 in order to remain in the Wild Card hunt. Ervin Santana lasted 7 innings Monday, but the bats didn't do much. A 2-run HR from Alex Gordon brought them within a run in the 8th, but they could get no further, and lost 4-3. Jeremy Guthrie struck out only 2 on Tuesday, but he got 10 ground ball outs, including 3 double plays. Billy Butler, Salvador Perez, and Alcides Escobar each had 2 hits in a 6-3 win for KC. ALex Gordon led off Wednesday's rubber match with a hom run, and James Shields did exactly what the Royals had in mind when they traded their top prospect to get him, going 8 strong innings in a big 6-2 win.
A big series win in hand, it was off to Detroit for the weekend. Bruce Chen was chased in the 5th inning Friday, having given up 6 runs (5 earned). The bullpen then retired 11 straight hitters, but the offense never mounted a comeback. Eric Hosmer tripled to score Alex Gordon in the 1st inning Saturday, Ervin Santana pitched 6.2 shutout innings, and Greg Holland picked up his 43rd save in a 1-0 victory. In the series finale, Guthrie battled, working out of jams all game. Kansas City has the best bullpen in baseball this year, so I have no idea why Guthrie was sent back out for the 8th inning in a 2-2 game, but he was. The 13th hit he allowed on the day was a home run, which sent the Royals to a 3-2 loss, while the best bullpen in baseball just watched.
Player of the Week: Alex Gordon (.308/.357/.654, 8 H, 3 HR, 8 R)
More about the Royals at Royals Review
Jesse Crain (RP, TB) - 60-day DL (right shoulder strain). Could return this week.
Brett Gardner (OF, NYY) - Exited early on Thursday (strained left oblique). TBD.
Miguel Gonzalez (SP, Bal) - Exited Sunday (sore groin). TBD.
Travis Hafner (DH, NYY) - 15-day DL (strained right rotator cuff). Could return next week.
Derek Jeter (SS, NYY) - Out for season (left ankle).
Justin Masterson (SP, Cle) - Out all week (oblique strain). Could return next week.
Nate McLouth (OF, Bal) - Exited Sunday after HBP (sore knee). Expected back Tuesday.
Bud Norris (SP, Bal) - Scratched from Friday's scheduled start (sore right elbow). TBD.
Steve Pearce (1B, Bal) - 15-day DL (sore left wrist). Could return this week.
Carlos Pena (1B, KC) - Out for season (appendectomy).
Kevin Youkilis (3B, NYY) - Day-to-day (herniated disc in back). Could return next week.
The Week Ahead
Rangers: 4 @ Rays, 3 @ Royals
Rays: 4 vs. Rangers, 4 vs. Orioles (ending Monday)
Indians: 3 @ Royals, 4 vs. Astros
Orioles: 3 @ Red Sox, 4 @ Rays (ending Monday)
Yankees: 3 @ Blue Jays, 3 vs. Giants
Royals: 3 vs. Indians, 3 vs. Rangers
This week will either eliminate 2-3 teams from contention (if Texas and Tampa Bay win their weekend series with Kansas City and Baltimore), or leave 4-6 teams even more tightly bunched than they already are (if KC and Baltimore win those series). The Yankees have the easiest slate this week, and probably need to go 5-1 to have a decent chance heading into the season's final two series.