The National League has just about wrapped up its playoff contestants. The Nationals, Giants, Reds and Braves are all in, and the Cardinals just need to avoid a complete catastrophe over the final six games to make it.
The American League, on the other hand, still hadn't seen a team so much as clinch a berth with six games left in the regular season. No, not even the Texas Rangers, the two-time league champs and leaders in the AL West for much of this season.
The Rangers did manage to extend their division lead to four games over Oakland with a win Thursday afternoon, so they should be fine. But someone is missing out on the postseason party. The New York Yankees have so far fended off the surprising Orioles in the AL East with a 11-3 run since Sept. 12. Baltimore must wonder what it has to do after going 10-5 during that same stretch. The Orioles were off Thursday before hosting Boston at Camden Yards over the weekend.
"What you have to do in 162 games is survive stretches. The Yankees have been there, done that," TBS baseball analyst John Smoltz said. "When they need a win, they usually get it. ... When you think about the Yankees, they are built to win. They've got the most depth."
Baltimore caught a break Thursday when both the A's and Los Angeles Angels lost. That puts the Orioles a game up on Oakland, the AL's second wild card right now, and three full games ahead of the Angels with six to play. Plus, Los Angeles, which lost to Seattle 9-4 on Thursday, had to travel to Texas immediately afterward for a tough weekend series against a motivated opponent looking to clinch. The A's will see the Rangers, too, to finish the season at home next week. But first they get a crack at the Mariners.
Maybe a bigger issue for Baltimore? A three-game series looming at Tampa Bay to end the year. The Rays were still just 3? games behind before starting a four-game set with the equally desperate Chicago White Sox on Thursday.
- Brian McNally