It comes down to this. 16 games in 16 days. What transpires over the next two and a half weeks determines if A) The Texas Rangers win their 3rd consecutive AL West Crown; B) They face a one-game Wild Card crapshoot; or C) They miss the playoffs entirely.
Three teams in the AL West can decide their own fate over the next 16 games.
For the Rangers, it’s six games with the Los Angeles Angels (3 at home, 3 on the road), three games on the road in Seattle and seven of the last ten games against the second place Oakland A’s (4 at home, 3 on the road).
The Angels have it a little easier. In addition to the six with Texas, they have three at home against the White Sox and six with the Mariners (3 and 3). But, at 7 1/2 games out, Los Angeles needs to finish strong for even a chance at a Wild Card berth.
The A’s are in a relatively comfortable place. They control their own fate, being firmly entrenched with the best record of the Wild Card contenders and within striking distance of Texas, just three games behind. But they have the toughest road over the last 16 games: 7 with Texas, 3 at Detroit, 3 at New York and three at home against Seattle.
16 games in 16 days for the Rangers and A’s. 15 games in 16 days for the Angels.
At this time the past two seasons, it’s been all over except the shouting for Texas. This year there’s real competition from the unlikeliest of sources. And the two teams square off in seven of the teams’ final ten games.
Scary thought: If things stay as they are, with Texas controlling the top seed and Oakland controlling the best record of the Wild Cards, these two teams could meet each other as many as 12 times in a 16-game span: 7 of 10 games in the regular season and, after a 1-game Wild Card playoff, as many as five times in the ALDS.
But let’s not too far ahead of ourselves. It starts tonight in Anaheim. Dempster-Weaver in Game 1. Holland-Wilson in Game 2. Darvish-Greinke in Game 3.
This is where it REALLY gets fun.
- Path to the Postseason: Sept. 16, 2012 (mlb.mlb.com)
- Why the Oakland Athletics Are Still in the AL West Divisional Race (bleacherreport.com)