Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Playoff race update: Angels, Rays charging
By Richard Durrett
The Texas Rangers have split the first two games of this series with the Oakland A's, meaning the magic number to clinch the AL West is still five (a Rangers win or an Oakland loss reduces it). Texas' magic number to clinch a playoff spot is at three (a Rangers win or an Angels loss reduces it). But what about the rest of the race and how it impacts the Rangers:
* Look out for the Los Angeles Angels and Tampa Bay Rays. We've talked a lot about the A's and Baltimore Orioles as wild card teams the past few weeks, but the Rays and Angels are beginning to get a little closer. Both won on Tuesday, meaning the Angels are two games back of a wild card spot and the Rays are three behind. The Angels are playing the Seattle Mariners right now before heading to Texas for three games. They will finish against the Mariners as well. The Rays have one more against the Boston Red Sox before heading to Chicago for a four-game set with the White Sox and finishing at home against the Orioles in what could be a very interesting series.
* The Minnesota Twins came back late on the New York Yankees on Tuesday night, meaning the Rangers' loss didn't cost them any ground in the race for the No. 1 overall seed. Texas remains two games up on the Yankees, who own the tiebreaker because they won the season series. The No. 1 seed is big this year because it means you wait and see who wins that one-game wild card playoff before the ALDS begins on Sunday, Oct. 7.
* The Yankees have a favorable schedule going forward with one more against the Twins, four in Toronto and three at home against the Red Sox (which are never easy because of the fierce rivalry). But they need to go on a run and have the Rangers slip up a few times to take the No. 1 seed away.
* Whichever team gets the No. 2 seed would face the AL Central winner. And that division has featured two teams that have struggled this month -- the White Sox and Detroit Tigers. Yesterday, the Tigers won and the White Sox lost, meaning the division is tied. If you're looking at schedules, the edge goes to the Tigers, who have two more against Kansas City followed by three in Minnesota and three in Kansas City to finish the season. The White Sox get one more at home against Cleveland, then four versus Tampa Bay before finishing the season in Cleveland.
* The bottom line for Texas is the same: Just win series. If they do that, everything will take care of itself. A win tonight reduces the magic number to 3 and guarantees a split in this four-game series. That would at least give them a shot at clinching this weekend. They'd rather do that than head to Oakland for the final three games needing a win or two.