The Major League regular season has made it to September, and as leaves begin to fall in this last partial month of summer, so teams begin to fall out of playoff races.
The Indians, with whom we are most concerned, are still alive, very much alive, but teams such as the Orioles and the Astros are already looking toward next year, with no hope of the postseason even should they win every game for the remainder of the season.
Here is our Friday look at the standings and also who plays whom among teams with a legitimate chance. Right now that includes (in my opinion) any team within ten games of either first in a division or a Wild Card spot.
Soon, of course, even that criteria will have to be altered. But for now...
AL Central Standings
This three-team horse-race may become a little clearer over the weekend, or it could become truly muddy. A lot will depend on what happens in Detroit, where the White Sox begin a series with the Tigers on Friday. The Indians, meanwhile, are in Kansas City to face the Royals, who are playing well the role of spoiler.
The elimination number for the Royals is 7; for the Twins it is 9; and for the Indians and White Sox it is 22.
AL East Standings
This is essentially a two-team race, with Tampa Bay being on the farthest fringe of contention. The Rays can still be a Wild Card, but would have to catch either Boston or New York to have a chance.
The Red Sox are home to the Rangers this weekend, while the Yankees host the Blue Jays. The Rays are also at home vs. the Orioles.
Baltimore has been eliminated from the post-season. Toronto's elimination number is 12 (for the East); and Tampa Bay's is 18
AL West Standings
The true picture of a two-team race can be found in the West. The Rangers, as noted above, are in Boston this weekend, while the Angels are home to take on Minnesota.
The Mariners' elimination number is 7; the Athletics' is 9, and Los Angeles's is 22.
The Angels, however, also have an outside shot at the Wild Card.
American League Wild Card Standings
|New York||82||53||.607||0||Won 1|
|Tampa Bay||74||62||.544||8.5||Lost 1|
|Los Angeles||74||63||.540||9||Won 1|
|Kansas City||57||81||.413||26.5||Won 1|
(updated 9.2.2011 at 11:20 AM EDT)
Let us use the same criteria for the Wild Card race as we do in the divisions: any team not within ten games might as well pack it in as far as postseason hopes.
Thus we have a three-team race here, and with New York's lead, it is a tepid "race" indeed.
Baltimore and Kansas City are eliminated from the Wild Card. Here are the elimination numbers for all teams still alive: Minnesota 2: Seattle 3; Oakland 5; Toronto 13; Cleveland and Chicago 15; Los Angeles 18; and Tampa Bay 19.
Meanwhile, in the Senior Circuit...
NL Central Standings
The Brewers were running away with this division, but have allowed the Cardinals some hope of still making a race of it.
Milwaukee is in Houston this weekend, while St. Louis takes on the Reds at home.
(We will dispense with magic numbers for the National League, and will just let you know who is officially done for as far as any hope goes, for either a divisional crown or a Wild Card. In the Central, that would be the Astros.)
NL East Standings
Another exclusively two-team "battle", if such a word can be applied when there is an almost eight-game gap between teams.
The Phillies are in Florida to take on the Marlins this weekend, while the Braves (who own the Wild Card lead at present) are in Atlanta to entertain the Dodgers.
NL West Standings
Finally we have the NL West, where the defending champion Giants are in serious trouble, needing to catch the red-hot Diamondbacks to really have a chance, since their deficit behind Atlanta is even larger.
Arizona goes for 10 in a row on Friday night in San Francisco in what is close to a do-or-die series for the Giants.
National League Wild Card Standings
|St. Louis||73||64||.532||8.5||Won 4|
|San Francisco||72||65||.525||9.5||Won 1|
|New York||66||69||.488||14.5||Won 2|
|Los Angeles||66||70||.485||15||Won 4|
|San Diego||60||77||.437||21.5||Lost 7|
(updated 9.2.2011 at 11:32 AM EDT)
Here (as in the American League) is a three-team race for the Wild Card. And again, to use such a term might be a stretch (alright, it is a stretch).
Atlanta, as noted above, is at home for the Dodgers over the weekend, while the Cardinals are home to Cincinnati and the Giants host Arizona.
As has been seen, some races could really blow up this weekend -- or become closer. Will Detroit hold an almost nine-game lead come Monday? Or will the White Sox and the Indians close the gap before Detroit heads to Cleveland on Monday? Will the Giants hold serve at home and put the pressure on the Diamondbacks?
Check back Monday to find out.