Division leads are almost out of reach in the American League. Miguel Cabrera and the Tigers own a five game lead on the Cleveland Indians, Big Papi and Dustin Pedroia sit comfortably atop a 9-1/2 game lead over the Rays, and Josh Reddick helped extend Oakland’s AL West lead to 5 games over the Rangers after hitting a home run last night in Texas. With just 15 calendar days left in the MLB’s regular season, the playoff race begins to thicken. New to MLB this year – two teams will be awarded a wild-card berth and face each other in a one-game playoff with the winner advancing to the divisional round. The chase for the last two playoff spots is heating up in the American League and filled with Franklin Pros from contending teams.
If the playoffs started today, Tampa and Texas would earn the two wild-card spots up for grabs, however, Cleveland has been surging. Winning seven of the last 10 games, the Indians have moved to just a half-game behind the Rangers for the second wild-card spot. Franklin Pro Nick Swisher has contributed heavily during the winning streak owning a batting line of .300/.391/.700, while collecting 12 hits, five home runs and 11 RBIs. The Indians have a great shot to steal a wild-card spot as they enter a three-game series with the Royals today, before concluding the season with series against the three worst teams in the AL – Twins, White Sox and Astros. The Royals have also sneaked into the wild-card race. After winning six of the last 10 games, Kansas City finds itself 3-1/2 games behind the Rangers. Franklin Pro and first-time All-Star, Salvador Perez has put together a tremendous season for the Royals – in the last 10 games the 23-year-old catcher has 12 hits, two doubles, one home run, seven RBIs with a batting line of .353/.378/.500. After the three-game series with the Indians starting today, the Royals will face the Rangers, Mariners, and White Sox. It’s entirely possible the Royals will know their playoff fate by the end of the weekend.
The Baltimore Orioles and shortstop J.J. Hardy will have a difficult time earning a wild card spot – currently 2-1/2 games behind second place in the wild card. The Orioles travel to Boston this week then head to Tampa for a four-game series before heading home to close the season against the Blue Jays and Red Sox. Although Tampa and Texas currently own the two wild-card spots, each team will have to earn it over the next two weeks. Franklin Pro Evan Longoria has had his hands full recently, scattering 10 hits in the last 10 games – four doubles, one triple and one home run – and will need to help the Rays early this week with two four-game series against the Rangers and Orioles. The Rays end the season with back-to-back divisional series against the Yankees and Blue Jays.