You can say this for the American League wild-card race: No one is grabbing hold saying, “This is mine!”
Six teams, counting the ones sitting in postseason position, are separated by 3 ½ games. Among the two teams holding the wild cards — the Rays and Rangers — and the four teams in closest pursuit — the Indians, Orioles, Royals and Yankees — the best record over the last 10 games is 6-4, by both Cleveland and Kansas City. Tampa Bay and the O’s are 5-5, New York 4-6 and Texas 2-8.
When people talked about the Indians’ huge schedule advantage, they pointed in particular to the finish over the last week and a half of the season. After Wednesday’s game against the Royals, Cleveland is home for four games with the Astros, then on the road for two at the White Sox and closing with four at Minnesota. Those clubs have been out of it for so long and looking ahead to the offseason, you half-expect them to stroll up to the plate holding a golf club or a fishing rod.
The Orioles, meanwhile, have two more left in Boston and four at Tampa Bay before a final homestand of three with the Blue Jays and three with the Red Sox.
Here’s what the other contenders have left:
*Rangers: at Rays (2), at Royals (3), Astros (3), Angels (4)
*Rays: Rangers (2), Orioles (4), at Yankees (3), at Blue Jays (3)
*Royals: Indians (1), Rangers (3), at Mariners (3), at White Sox (3)
*Yankees: at Blue Jays (2), Giants (3), Rays (3), at Astros (3)
Only the Orioles and Rays don’t have at least two series left against also-rans.