Cracks in the AL contenders

Updated: September 17, 2009, 5:45 PM ET
By Buster Olney
The count was full, the bases were loaded and Brian Fuentes fired a fastball at the lowest part of the strike zone Wednesday night, and when home plate umpire Rick Reed called the pitch a ball -- the K Zone indicated that Fuentes' fastball nicked the strike zone -- and the tying run walked home, Angels manager Mike Scioscia was incredulous. His lower jaw may or may not have bounced off the dugout step in Fenway Park.

But Scioscia is and always will be a forward thinker, and somewhere in his brain, his greatest concern about the blown lead for Fuentes probably wasn't about that particular game, on that particular night, but how that might weigh on his struggling left-hander.

Fuentes is the Angels' most significant potential problem right now, but the truth is that all four American League teams that would be in the postseason as of today have fault lines in their pitching, with less than three weeks before the start of the playoffs:

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