Eye on Playoff Races: AL wild-card chaos with two days left in season

By Mike Axisa | Baseball Writer

Five straight wins have the Rangers a game out of a wild-card spot with two to play.
Five straight wins have the Rangers a game out of a wild-card spot with two to play. (USATSI)

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Two days left in the regular season and three teams are still in the AL wild-card mix. All three are going to be playing at same time today, by the way. Are you rooting for a chaotic weekend and some wacky tiebreaker scenario like I am? Hope so. Here's where the various races stand as of Saturday morning.

If the playoffs started today...

AL wild-card: Indians at Rays
ALDS1: Wild-card winner at Red Sox
ALDS2: Tigers at Athletics

NL wild-card: Reds at Pirates
NLDS1: Wild-card winner at Braves
NLDS2: Dodgers at Cardinals

Current playoff odds, via FanGraphs

AL
Red Sox - IN
A's - IN
Tigers - IN
Rays - 88.1%
Indians - 86.0%
Rangers - 25.8%

NL
Dodgers - IN
Braves - IN
Cardinals - IN
Pirates - IN
Reds - IN

Saturday's big games

Angels at Rangers, 12:05pm ET (Preview)
Derek Holland (3.33) vs. Garrett Richards (4.09). This game was pushed up a few hours because of inclement weather in the area, so all three AL wild-card hopefuls will be playing at the same time. The Rangers are one game back of both the Rays and Indians for a wild-card spot, so they need to win these next two games just to have a chance at the postseason. A loss pretty much dooms them. Texas has won five straight.

Indians at Twins, 1:05pm ET (Preview)
Cole De Vries (11.70) vs. Scott Kazmir (4.14). A soft schedule and eight straight wins have moved the Tribe into a tie with the Rays for the top wild-card spot. More importantly, they're a game up on the Rangers and can clinch a playoff spot as soon as Saturday.

Rays at Blue Jays, 1:07pm ET (Preview)
J.A. Happ (4.85) vs. Chris Archer (3.21). Friday night's loss to R.A. Dickey and the rest of the Blue Jays dropped Tampa Bay into a tie with Cleveland. They've also got just a one-game cushion over the Rangers, and between these three teams, the Rays probably have the toughest opponent this weekend.

Pirates at Reds, 1:05pm ET (Preview)
Bronson Arroyo (3.60) vs. Charlie Morton (3.14). These are the two NL wild-card teams, that's already been determined, but a win today would give the Pirates homefield advantage in Tuesday's wild-card game.

Saturday's possible clinchers

- Rays clinch wild-card spot with a win AND a Rangers loss.
- Rays clinch share of playoff spot with a win OR a Rangers loss.
- Indians clinch wild-card spot with a win AND a Rangers loss.
- Indians clinch share of playoff spot with a win OR a Rangers loss.
- Red Sox clinch best record in AL (and homefield advantage) with a win OR an Athletics loss.
- Braves clinch best record in NL (and homefield advantage) with a win AND a Cardinals loss.
- Pirates clinch homefield advantage in NL wild-card game with a win.

2013 postseason schedule

AL Wild Card Tiebreakers: Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 (if necessary)
NL Wild Card Game: Oct. 1
AL Wild Card Game: Oct. 2
NL Division Series begin: Oct. 3
AL Division Series begin: Oct. 4
NL Championship Series begins: Oct. 11
AL Championship Series begins: Oct. 12
World Series begins: Oct. 23

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