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Playoff hopes slipping as Yankees enter September

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While the Yankees were busy scoring just three runs and once again losing to the Blue Jays on Sunday, the Orioles were scoring 12 runs and winning for the sixth time in seven days.

And so we enter the season’s final month with the Yankees a full nine games out of first place in the American League East. Even if the Yankees sweep their remaining eight games against Baltimore, they’ll still need help to win the division. I suppose a division title is not impossible, but focusing on the division standings seems a waste of time at the moment. So let’s forget about the Orioles for now. The second wild card is the only thing worth any attention right now, which means focusing on these teams:

Kansas City Royals
Leading the AL Central
Games remaining vs. Yankees: 3
September schedule: 3 vs. Rangers, 3 at Yankees, 3 at Tigers, 4 vs. Red Sox, 3 vs. White Sox, 3 vs. Tigers, 3 at Indians, 4 at White Sox

Right now, the Royals have played themselves beyond the wild card standings and into the mix for a division title. They’re just a half game ahead of the Tigers, though, and there’s a solid chance the Royals will be back in the wild card fray by the time they get to Yankee Stadium this weekend. They get an off day before the start of that series. They also finish the season with a week on the road. The Royals also still have to finish last night’s game against the Indians, which was postponed with the Indians winning in the 10th inning.

Detroit Tigers
Leading the second wild card
Games remaining vs. Yankees: 0
September schedule: 4 at Indians, 3 vs. Giants, 3 vs. Royals, 3 vs. Indians, 3 at Twins, 3 at Royals, 3 vs. White Sox, 4 vs. Twins

The Tigers have two convenient off days sprinkled into the middle of the month, one on the 11th and another on the 18th. They also get to finish the season with a seven-game home stand against the White Sox and Twins, two of the worst teams in the Central. Could make a case that the Yankees would prefer to have the Tigers take control of the Central so that those three games at home against Kansas City might mean something in the wild card standings.

Seattle Mariners
Half game out of the wild card
Games remaining vs. Yankees: 0
September schedule: 3 at Athletics, 4 at Rangers, 3 vs. Astros, 3 vs. Athletics, 4 at Angels, 3 at Astros, 4 at Blue Jays, 3 vs. Angels

Real mix of good and bad for the Mariners down the stretch. They’re actually going to have a real say in whether the A’s or Angels end up winning the American League West (the Mariners have 13 games remaining against those two teams). Only nine home games remaining for the Mariners. They’re on the road for 18 games with only one off day.

Cleveland Indians
Three games out of the wild card
Games remaining vs. Yankees: 0September schedule: 4 vs. Tigers, 3 vs. White Sox, 1 vs. Angels, 3 vs. Twins, 3 at Tigers, 4 at Astros, 3 at Twins, 3 vs. Royals, 3 vs. Rays

The Indians have just one day off this month and it’s not until the 25th. Half of their games in the next two weeks are against the Tigers, but they also get to play a bunch of games against the Astros, Twins and White Sox. The Yankees also still have to finish last night’s game, which was postponed by rain with the Indians winning in the 10th inning. The makeup date is September 22.

New York Yankees
Three-and-a-half games out of the wild card
Games remaining vs. Yankees: NA
September schedule: 3 vs. Red Sox, 3 vs. Royals, 3 vs. Rays, 4 at Orioles, 3 at Rays, 4 vs. Blue Jays, 4 vs. Orioles, 3 at Red Sox

Included here just to give a sense of where the Yankees currently fall in the standings. They’re ahead of only one team that still has a winning record, and that one team just won two of three in a head-to-head weekend series.

Toronto Blue Jays
Five games out of the wild card
Games remaining vs. Yankees: 4
September schedule: 3 at Rays, 3 at Red Sox, 3 vs. Cubs, 3 vs. Rays, 3 at Orioles, 4 at Yankees, 4 vs. Mariners, 3 vs. Orioles

Just like the Yankees, the Blue Jays are off today. But when their September schedule gets started tomorrow, it starts with four straight series against sub-.500 teams, including one interleague series at home. Granted, their next six games are on the road — and the Blue Jays do have six games left against the Orioles — but the September schedule opens fairly soft, which might let the Blue Jays get back in the mix.

Associated Press photo