Here’s a look at the AL wild-card contenders:
Schedule: at Kansas City (3), at Toronto (3), at Boston (3), Baltimore (3), Toronto (4), at Tampa Bay (3), at Baltimore (3).
Analysis: The Yankees only have three more games against a contending team, those coming against the Red Sox. They’ve come through the tough part of their schedule with the lead and now control their fate. Andy Pettitte and Chien-Ming Wang should get five more starts each, leaving only 11 games to Ian Kennedy, Phil Hughes and Roger Clemens.
Our take: They’re in. The schedule is easy and the offense will make up for any problems with the pitching. The Yanks should finish with at least 92 or 93 wins.
Schedule: at Detroit (3), Oakland (3), Tampa Bay (4), at Oakland (3), at Anaheim (4), Cleveland (4), Texas (3).
Analysis: The Mariners have lost 11 of their last 12 games. They also have to play 24 games in 24 days. They’re not just done, they’re extra crispy at this point. Felix Hernandez can’t carry the rotation by himself.
Our take: Seattle has done well to get this far. They have too many tough games left to stay in the race.
Schedule: Seattle (3), Toronto (1), Texas (3), at Minnesota (3), at Cleveland (3), Kansas City (3), Minnesota (3), at Chicago (3).
Analysis: Jim Leyland all but conceded the division race the other day, saying he tips his cap to Cleveland for how well they’ve played. But the Tigers can be a threat to the Yankees. Kenny Rogers is back and Gary Sheffield will try and play again with his bum shoulder.
Our take: Don’t be surprised if the Tigers make the Yankees sweat for a day or two. They have a favorable schedule and Leyland won’t let his players quit. But they would need to finish 17-5 to get to 92 wins and that’s a lot to ask.