With only ten days left in the regular season, lo and behold we have seen a couple of races develop where it looked like their would be no drama at all.
In the American League the Wild Card race is suddenly a dogfight, and the San Francisco Giants in the National League are determined not to give up their world championship status without a fight.
Let's take a look and see how things are shaking out with a week and a half to go. As always, we will give you the upcoming schedule for all teams still in contention...though that list gets shorter and shorter.
AL Central Standings
The Tigers are in, and the Indians are, believe it or not, still alive for the Wild Card (see below). Detroit currently has the second-best record in the American League, and if the season ended today would be facing the Boston Red Sox in the first round of the playoffs.
Detroit begins a series at Kansas City against the Royals on Tuesday, while the Indians play a make-up game against the Mariners on Monday before opening a home series vs. the White Sox on Tuesday with a day/night doubleheader.
AL East Standings
The Yankees have a magic number of 7 to clinch a playoff spot, while Boston and the Tampa Bay Rays are in a sudden duel for the Wild Card spot in the AL (see below).
New York currently has the best record in the league, and if the season ended today would be facing Texas in the opening round of the playoffs.
The Yankees are home to Minnesota on Monday, while the Red Sox are hosting Baltimore. Tampa Bay begins a series in New York on Tuesday.
AL West Standings
The Rangers currently have the worst record of a division leader in the AL, and if the season ended today would open the playoffs in New York. (The reason that the Yankees, with the best record, would not be playing the Wild Card winner in the first round is that a team cannot play another team in its own division in the first round, and as the Red Sox at present hold the Wild Card lead, they could not play the Yankees first.)
Texas has a magic number of 6 to win the West, while the Angels are still alive for the Wild Card as well as their division.
The Rangers are at Oakland to face the Athletics beginning Tuesday, while the Angels begin a series in Toronto vs. the Blue Jays on Monday.
American League Wild Card Standings
|Tampa Bay||85||67||.559||2||Won 2|
|Los Angeles||83||69||.546||4||Won 1|
|Kansas City||67||87||.435||21||Lost 1|
(updated 9.19.2011 at 11:26 AM EDT)
Toronto and Cleveland are both mathematically alive for the Wild Card, although the "tragic number" for elimination is 1 for each club.
Boston's magic number to win the Wild Card stands at 9, but the way the Rays are coming on, don't be shocked if Tampa Bay makes Boston pay for their slow start so many months ago. And the Angels are hovering in the wings, ready to pounce should the Red Sox and the Rays falter down the stretch.
Now for the Senior Circuit:
NL Central Standings
The Brewers have been pushed a bit by the Cardinals, yet still Milwaukee's magic number is 4 to win the Central. St. Louis is still alive for the NL Wild Card (see below).
Milwaukee has the second-best record in the NL, and with the same situation as in the American League (best record and Wild Card leader from the same division), if the season ended today the Brewers would host the Wild Card-leading Braves in the opening round.
The Brewers begin the week in Chicago to face the Cubs on Monday, while St. Louis finishes a series in Philadelphia, also on Monday. The Cardinals then come home to face the Mets beginning Tuesday.
NL East Standings
The Phillies have clinched the NL East, while Atlanta is the Wild Card leader. Philadelphia's magic number to clinch the best record in the National League is 2, and if the season ended today, the Phillies would be hosting the Diamondbacks in the opening round.
Philadelphia finishes a series with St. Louis on Monday and then hosts the Nationals starting Tuesday, while Atlanta begins a series in Florida on Monday vs. the Marlins.
NL West Standings
Arizona continues to hold on in the est, with a magic number of 5 to clinch the division. If the season ended today the Diamondbacks would face the Phillies in the opening round. The Giants, meanwhile, have won eight straight to stay alive in both the division and Wild Card races, but they are running out of time.
Arizona begins the week at home on Monday vs. the Pirates, while San Francisco will be in LA to face the Dodgers beginning Tuesday.
National League Wild Card Standings
|St. Louis||83||69||.546||3.5||Won 1|
|San Francisco||83||70||.542||4||Won 8|
|Los Angeles||76||76||.500||10.5||Won 3|
|New York||73||80||.477||14||Won 1|
|San Diego||65||88||.424||22||Lost 1|
(updated 9.19.2011 at 11:42 AM EDT)
Only three teams are left alive for the National League Wild Card. Right now the Braves' magic number to clinch is 7 over the Cardinals and 6 over the Giants.
And there we have it as the last full week of the season dawns. Be sure to check back on Friday for another update, as the season will head into its final two series for each club still in contention.