Six American League teams are within 2 1/2 games of the playoffs, and three of them still get to play a series against the Astros. The following are the side-by-side schedules for each of the contenders, with the Indians having the easiest path with four against the Astros and the remainder against the White Sox and Twins and possible return of Justin Masterson, and Nelson Cruz (pictured) coming back to the Rangers for the season finale.
|Date||Baltimore||Cleveland||Kansas City||Tampa Bay||NY Yankees||Texas|
|Wed, Sep 18||Boston W5-3, -1.0||Kansas City L2-7, -0.5||Cleveland W7-2, -2.5||Texas W4-3, +1.0||Toronto W4-3, -2.5||Tampa Bay L4-3, 0.0|
|Thu, Sep 19||Boston||Houston||Texas||Toronto||Tampa Bay|
|Fri, Sep 20||Tampa Bay||Houston||Texas||Baltimore||San Francisco||Kansas City|
|Sat, Sep 21||Tampa Bay||Houston||Texas||Baltimore||San Francisco||Kansas City|
|Sun, Sep 22||Tampa Bay||Houston||Texas||Baltimore||San Francisco||Kansas City|
|Mon, Sep 23||Tampa Bay||Seattle||Baltimore||Houston|
|Tue, Sep 24||Toronto||White Sox||Seattle||NY Yankees||Tampa Bay||Houston|
|Wed, Sep 25||Toronto||White Sox||Seattle||NY Yankees||Tampa Bay||Houston|
|Thu, Sep 26||Toronto||Minnesota||White Sox||NY Yankees||Tampa Bay||LA Angels|
|Fri, Sep 27||Boston||Minnesota||White Sox||Toronto||Houston||LA Angels|
|Sat, Sep 28||Boston||Minnesota||White Sox||Toronto||Houston||LA Angels|
|Sun, Sep 29||Boston||Minnesota||White Sox||Toronto||Houston||LA Angels|
Breitbart Sports noted that Masterson surged up the Value Add rankings due to throwing two of only six games in which a pitcher went nine innings for a 1-0 win. He would likely only throw a few innings if he gets back on the mound down the stretch, but the Indians may not need their best pitcher based on the competition they play.
The two teams that had to win Wednesday did, as the Yankees and Royals both won and with yet another loss by the Rangers both pulled with 2 1/2 games of the playoffs.
One key to the Yankees getting into the playoff picture, and the Rangers threatening to fall out of it, is who has and has not played. Alex Rodriguez challenged MLB to stay on the field, and has put up a solid .275 average and six homers in a quarter of a season. Meanwhile the Rangers eventually faltered without their slugger Nelson Cruz, whose 50 game suspension ends just in time for him to take the field in the season finale against the Angels.
With the three division leaders settled, the only question left is which two of these six teams finishes on top and faces off in the one game Wild Card playoff to most likely play the Red Sox.