Can Brandon McCarthy and the Oakland A's stay in the playoff hunt?
When the calendar turns to September over the weekend, the grind of a Major League Baseball season will be in its final month with teams making pushes for postseason berths.
Of the teams in the AL West, it seems as though only one has guaranteed itself a postseason trip, and that's your Texas Rangers, who have the best record in the American League and are four games up in the division. Guaranteed? No, but it's about as certain as they come.
Behind the Rangers sit the surprising, streaking Oakland A's and the somewhat disappointing Los Angeles Angels, who are coming off a sweep of the Boston Red Sox, and sit 8 1/2 games back of first place right now but only a few games out of the wild card race that is currently held by Oakland and the equally surprising Baltimore Orioles.
So with that being said, let's take a look at the remaining schedules for the Rangers, A's and Angels, while focusing on the next 10 games, when the Rangers should be able to expand their lead a little bit heading into the final weeks of the season.
Rangers (4 games up on the A's) — After their first day off in 20 days, the Rangers hit the road for 10 games, but they have a chance to pad their lead a bit. They start with a three-game weekend set against the strugggggling Cleveland Indians before heading to Kansas City for four games and Tampa Bay for three. After that, they host Cleveland and Seattle before the Angels come to town on Sept. 18.
A's — We keep saying "when are the A's going to quit winning" and they haven't stopped yet. If there were ever a time to bet on that, it'd be the coming weeks when the A's face a schedule full of contenders. After hosting a weekend series against the flailing Boston Red Sox, the A's host the Angels, travel to Seattle and then travel to Anaheim for four games before hosting Baltimore. After that, they play the Rangers seven times, the Tigers and the Yankees.
Angels (8 1/2 games out of first; 3 1/2 games out of wild card race) — The Angels are still a threat to earn a wild card berth and be a beast in October with that starting pitching staff, but their chances of winning the West are basically gone. The Angels' remaining schedule is somewhere in the middle of the Rangers' relatively easy one and the A's gauntlet. They go to Seattle, to Oakland, and then host the Tigers and A's. After that, they go to Kansas City, face the Rangers twice, the White Sox and the Mariners twice.