The Texas Rangers continue to slide into the wild-card spot despite focusing their attentions into taking the AL West division; the Yankees and Orioles continue their tense four-game series; and the Kansas City Royals take Cleveland down a notch as they creep up the wild-card standings. (Photo : REUTERS/Mike Stone (L), Doug Kapustin (C), & Dave Kaup (R))
The Rangers lost the lead in the American League (AL) West division, down to 2.5 games to the Oakland A's, having gone 2-7 record for the month of September. The Rangers slide continued on Tuesday, losing to the Pittsburgh Pirates in a inter-division game. The Rangers are hoping to win the AL West than land in the wild-card game.
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"It's not hard to keep the morale up; we're still out only two games," said Texas manager Ron Washington. "What we have to keep doing is to keep grinding, and pretty soon things will turn. But we just have to keep fighting.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays are have been sinking into the wild-card going through a 4-11 slump, owning a share of first place in the AL East with the Boston Red Sox a couple of weeks ago and now holding on to the second wild-card slot. The Rays lost to the Boston Red Sox Tuesday night with Clay Buchholz - returning from a strained neck injury - holding Tampa hitters to three hits through five innings.
Despite their struggles, Rays' manager Joe Maddon maintains that the team is focused is on the AL East title and not the wild-card race.
"We still need to keep the goal to win the division, we have to keep that as our main focus," said Maddon. "And if we don't do that, then the threat is to not reach any goal."
Baltimore Orioles / New York Yankees
The Orioles and Yankees are in the middle of a four-game series with Orioles taking the first game and the Yankees winning Tuesday night. Tensions are running high with Yankees' manager Joe Girardi and Orioles' manager Buck Showalter getting into a shouting match during Monday's game. Girardi accused Baltimore third base coach Bobby Dickerson of stealing signs with Showalter having to be restrained by home plate umpire Ed Hickox as he charged onto the field to have words with Girardi.
"He was yelling at the third base coach," Showalter said after game. "Somebody's wearing black and orange, I'm not going to let that happen."
While the Yankees have a shot at leap-frogging the Orioles with two more games remaining against them this week and the Rays free-falling down the standings, New York will have to make a run to the playoffs without captain Derek Jeter, whose season, including the playoffs, is effectively after suffering his latest leg injury.
"I think it's important that we don't put him in position to have further damage," said Cashman. "So today I met with Derek and told him this is what we've decided to do. Obviously it's not an easy situation."
Cleveland Indians / Kansas City Royals
The Royals gained ground on Cleveland in the wild-card race, beating them Tuesday and Wednesday keeping their wild-card hopes alive.
"To come in here and win a series against a tough Cleveland team was huge for us," said Royals manager Ned Yost. "Especially considering where we are at this point of the season. Losses hurt now. You've got to try to really keep them at a minimum if you can."
The Royals, looking to go to the postseason for the first time since winning the 1985 World Series, have another a 3-game series with the Indians over the weekend and with the Rangers later next week.
"We know there are teams ahead of us, but we're excited," said Royals' pitcher Jeremy Guthrie. "If we win games, we have a chance. If we don't, we don't. We know we have to win a lot of series."
Tampa Bay Rays
New York Yankees
Kansas City Royals