Baltimore Orioles -- This time last week, the Orioles were two games out of first place. Now they're just one! So that's good, but after
twice thrice being tied for the lead in the past week, I long for more. The Orioles began the week up in Toronto where they took two out of three from the Blue Jays, then came home to Baltimore to battle the New York Yankees for first place. Other than a sad injury to Nick Markakis, the weekend series ended up meaning little. The 2-2 split sent the Yankees out of town just as they arrived: one game ahead.
This is another tough week for the Orioles. They're off tonight, but tomorrow start up a critical three-game series with the Rays that could either give them some breathing room in the WC or send them into third place in the AL East. They follow that with a trip out to the west coast to battle the Oakland Athletics, who just won't stop winning. While I'm still convinced the Orioles can take the division, that series will be huge for the wild card chase as well. And the O's just never seem to play well in Oakland, even in years when the A's aren't good.
New York Yankees -- Their series loss to the Rays as the Orioles were taking on the Blue Jays lost them a game in the standings, but they should consider themselves lucky they got out of Baltimore with a split. Their schedule lightens a bit this week as they get three games against the Red Sox (1-9 in their last ten) but then they come home to face the Rays for another huge series.
Tampa Bay Rays -- The Rays gained a half game in both the wild card and the divisional race thanks to back-to-back series wins against the Yankees and Texas Rangers. But they can't afford to slow down with three games against the Orioles and then three more against the Yankees this week.
Oakland Athletics -- I was starting to wonder if the A's would ever lose again. Cue the Angels, who came into Oakland and swept the A's in three games that weren't even close. They recovered with a sweep of the Mariners to go 3-3 on the week, but lost a half-game in the wild card race.
It doesn't get easier, either. Four games against the Angels beginning tonight followed by the weekend series at home vs the Orioles. The WC race in the AL is insane, and frankly would be even if there weren't a second spot available.
Los Angeles Angels -- Guys, I think it's time to start worrying about the Angels. For weeks they've been the last team on the list of WC contenders, but a 6-0 record last week featuring sweeps of the A's and the Tigers has put them right back in the thick of things, just 1 game out of the WC. They get four more tries against the A's this week before a trip to Kansas City to take on the Royals. The Angels have a lot of talent, I'm glad the Orioles are finished with them for the season.
Chicago White Sox -- It's looking less and less like the AL Central has a shot at the WC. The White Sox are in first place by two games over the Tigers, but neither team is playing all that well. The Sox went 3-3 this week as they lost took two out of three from the Twins before dropping two games to the Royals. They start a four-game series at home against the Tigers tonight, then go to Minnesota for the weekend.
Detroit Tigers -- Once a big threat to the WC, the Tigers have dropped off. They went just 1-5 last week and while I can understand the Angels getting the better of them, they also lost a series to the Indians. Really, Detroit? Just a terrible way to follow up their sweep of the White Sox that put them into a tie for first last week. After they play four in Detroit that could put them back into first place or send them plummeting further in the standings, the Tigers get another crack at the Indians this weekend.