AL Wild Card standings through Sunday, September 8:
|Team||W - L||GB||RS||RA||DIFF||FanGraphs Playoff Odds|
There aren't recaps for the division leaders in this post, but here's the short version: The Red Sox went 5-2 last week, and have opened up a 3-game lead in the race for the AL's best record. The Athletics went 5-2, passing Texas and moving into 1st place in the West. The Tigers went 2-4, and have a losing record over the last month.
Here's a look at each Wild Card contender's action rom last week:
Texas Rangers (2-4)
The Rangers began their week in Oakland (and in 1st place). Derek Holland was knocked out of Monday's game in the 5th inning and the offense left 11 men on base in a 4-2 loss. Rookie Martin Perez helped Texas rebound Tuesday, going 7 innings and allowing just 1 run. Mitch Moreland and Alex Rios each homered in the 5-1 victory. Wednesday's rubber match was close until the 6th, when Yu Darvish ran into trouble and things got out of hand. The Rangers lost 11-4.
The California road trip continued with three games in Anaheim. Rios homered in Friday's series opener, as did Elvis Andrus, but Matt Garza has a hard time in the 4th inning and Ian Kinsler struck out to end the game with the tying run on base. Things turned even worse Saturday, as Holland struggled again and the Rangers made 4 errors in the field, leaving them with another loss. Texas managed to avoid being swept Sunday. Rios hit his 3rd home run of the week in the 1st inning, then hit in what proved to be the game's winning run with a 7th inning double.
Player of the Week: Alex Rios (.429/.500/.952, 9 H, 3 HR, 5 RBI)
Tampa Bay Rays (3-4)
The Rays spent most of the week in Anaheim, for four games with the Angels. Rookie Chris Archer didn't survive the 4th inning on Monday, and the bullpen hardly fared better in an 11-2 shellacking. Matt Moore returned from the DL Tuesday and helped Tampa Bay tie the series at a game apiece, aided by 3.2 perfect innings of relief from Roberto 'Fausto Carmona' Hernandez, who struck out 7. The Rays won again Wednesday, with Rookie of the Year candidate Wil Myers hitting 2 home runs in a 5-1 victory. David Price allowed 6 runs Thursday, and the offense never got going as Tampa Bay was forced to settle for a series split.
A 10-game West Coast road trip for the Rays concluded over the weekend in Seattle. The recently reacquired Delmon Young homered Friday night, but it wasn't enough to keep Tampa Bay from a 6-4 loss. Evan Longoria hit his 29th HR Saturday, but the rest of the offense did almost nothing, and Archer lasted only 4 innings in another defeat for the Rays. Moore made his second strong start of the week Sunday, and the offense rallied late to pull out a 4-1 victory that kept Tampa Bay in the driver's seat for the second Wild Card, despite being just 12-19 over the last five weeks.
Player of the Week: Matt Moore (2 starts, 11.2 IP, 0.77 ERA, 9 K)
Cleveland Indians (4-2)
The Indians returned home from a rough week on the road, and hosted Baltimore during the week. The series got off to an awful start Monday, as top starting pitcher Justin Masterson left in the 2nd inning with a strained oblique. The bullpen had a hard time, and the Tribe fell 7-2. They fought back to level the series Tuesday, getting 6 shutout innings from Ubaldo Jimenez. Closer Chris Perez gave up 3 runs in the 9th, but fortunately he'd been handed a 4-run lead and Cleveland held on for the W (also: Carlos Santana reached 300 walks faster than any catcher in history). Yan Gomes in 3 hits Wednesday, and after a mediocre start by Zach McAllister, the bullpen provided 4.1 shutout innings, helping the Indians win the game and the series.
After a day off, the Tribe hosted the Mets for the weekend. Friday night saw Scott Kazmir pitch his best game of the year, striking out 12 and walking no one in 6 shutout innings. Whatever doubt about the victory remained in the 8th inning went out the window when Nick Swisher hit a grand slam, leading to a final score of 8-1. Corey Kluber returned after more than a month away due to a sprained finger, and pitched pretty well over 5 innings. Swisher homered again, and Asdrubal Cabrera added one too, in a 9-4 victory. The Indians could not complete the sweep Sunday, as the offense went cold and Perez turned a 9th inning tie into a deficit the team couldn't recover from.
Player of the Week: Scott Kazmir (1 start, 6 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 0 BB, 12 K)
Baltimore Orioles (4-3)
The Orioles visited Cleveland for a pivotal series with the Tribe. Bud Norris struck out 8 while allowing only 1 run in 7 innings Monday. Nate McLouth and Matt Wieters each homered in a 7-2 win. The bats were silenced for 8 innings Tuesday. They then rallied for 3 runs in the 9th, and were down just 1 with no outs in the inning, but were unable to managed anything further, losing 4-3. Adam Jones and Manny Machado each homered in Wednesday's finale, but those blasts weren't enough to avoid a 6-4 loss.
The Orioles then returned home from a tough, unsuccessful road trip to play four games with the lowly White Sox. Miguel Gonzalez pitched 7 strong innings in the opener, while Jones, J.J. Hardy, and Brian Roberts each homered in a 3-1 win. Scott Feldman pitched a shutout Friday night, allowing just one base runner to reach even second base. Chris Davis' 48th home run led the offense in a 4-0 offense. Baltimore fell behind in the 10th inning Saturday, but got two men into scoring position in the bottom half, and with two outs, Wieters drove them both in for another win. The O's couldn't complete the sweep, as Norris was roughed up early and a 9th inning rally fell short.
Player of the Week: Matt Wieters (.333/.385/.625, 8 H, 2 HR, 4 R, 5 RBI)
New York Yankees (4-3)
The Yankees hosted the White Sox to begin their week. Phil Hughes left in the 2nd inning after a rain delay, and former (and unpopular) Indian David Huff then came in and allowed just 1 run in 5.2 innings. The offense put up 8 runs in the 4th inning in a 9-1 win. New York trailed 4-1 in the 8th Tuesday, but strung together a series of hits, capped by a 2-run double from Eduardo Nunez that put them ahead to stay. CC Sabathia pitched 7.1 innings Wednesday, allowing 3 runs.Robinson Cano had 3 hits, including a home run, helping the Yankees score just enough to pull out the sweep.
The homestand continued with 1st place Boston paying a visit for the weekend. Ivan Nova lasted just 4 innings and the Yankees were down 7-2 in the 7th before storming back for 6 runs to take the lead. Mariano Rivera lost the lead in the 9th though, and New York then lost in the 10th. New York led 8-3 Friday night, but the bullpen imploded, giving up 9 runs in the 7th and 8th, leaving New York with a 12-8 loss. Inspired by Huff's strong work in relief earlier in the week, he was given the starting nod Saturday. He allowed 9 runs in 3.1 innings, and New York lost 13-9. It was the first time since 1977 they'd allowed 9+ runs to Boston in three consecutive games. They avoided an embarrassing sweep whenIchiro Suzuki scored on a wild pitch with two outs in the 9th Sunday.
Player of the Week: Robinson Cano (.387/.387/.613, 12 H, 5 XBH, 8 RBI)
Kansas City Royals (5-2)
The Royals Were at home facing the Mariners for four games during the week. Danny Duffy labored in the opener, getting pulled after throwing 91 pitches before the end of the 4th inning. Only 1 run scored though, and Will Smith then came in and struck out 8 in 4.2 shutout innings of relief, helping KC to a 3-1 win. Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez each homered Tuesday, in another victory for the Royals. They stumbled on Wednesday, losing 6-4 after Ervin Santana struggled, and in Thursday's finale, Greg Holland blew a save for only the third time all season. The game went into extra innings, and in the 13th, Mike Moustakas ended things with a home run to right field, giving KC a 7-6 win.
Next into town were the Tigers, who put a beating on the Royals Friday night. James Shields allowed 10 runs on 14 hits in 3.2 innings. It was 16-2 by game's end, with Kansas City giving up 26 hits, the most by any team since 2011. Momentum is largely a myth though, and so KC put the lose behind them and bounced back for a 4-3 win Saturday, with a 2-run HR by Perez making the difference. In Sunday's rubber match Bruce Chen went 7 innings, and Eric Hosmer had 3 hits, including a 3-run blast, as the Royals won 5-2, keeping them in the hunt for their first playoff appearance since 1985.
Player of the Week: Eric Hosmer (.375/.483/.583, 9 H, 3 XBH, 6 R)
Travis Hafner (NYY) - 15-day DL (strained right rotator cuff). Could return this week.
Jason Hammel (Bal) - 15-day DL (elbow strain). Could return late this week.
Derek Jeter (NYY) - Day-to-day (left ankle). Could return this week.
Corey Kluber (Cle) - Returned on Saturday (sprained finger)
Justin Masterson (Cle) - Exited Monday's start early (oblique strain), could return late September.
Matt Moore (TB) - Returned Tuesday (sore elbow).
Steve Pearce (Bal) - 15-day DL (sore left wrist). Could return this week.
Ryan Raburn (Cle) - Returned this week (sore left foot).
David Robertson (NYY) - Day-to-day (shoulder tendonitis). Could return this week.
Kevin Youkilis (NYY) - Day-to-day (herniated disc in back). Could return next week.
The Week Ahead
Rangers: 3 vs. Pirates, 3 vs. Athletics
Rays: 3 vs. Red Sox, 3 @ Twins
Indians: 3 vs. Royals, 4 @ White Sox
Orioles: 4 vs. Yankees, 3 @ Blue Jays
Yankees: 4 @ Orioles, 3 @ Red Sox
Royals: 3 @ Indians, 3 @ Tigers