[UPDATE 10/3: All over but the wheezing at this point, of course--but we wanted to close this off with a couple of observations...
The Indians, who got bounced in the wild-card playoff game, just crushed sub-.500 teams in '13--a staggering 56-18, easily the best in the AL. They were fourth-worst in games against .500+ teams, however (36-52). The former got them to the playoffs, but the latter made a quick exit likely.
And--note that all six teams originally in the wild card hunt when we started this on 9/16 managed to all post victories on the same day only once--on the final day of the season.]
[UPDATE9/29, late a.m.: As we suggested about a week ago, the Indians were in a great position schedule-wise to take control of their destiny for the post-season...and they are on their way toward winning their tenth consecutive game against a sub-.500 ballclub en route to the playoffs.
Tampa and Texas are trying to win in order to force a one-game playoff. The Rays were matching W's with the Indians but faltered against the Blue Jays in the first two games of their final series. A win today would keep them in the hunt. Texas sends Yu Darvish to the mound in hopes of keeping their seaosn alive.
A similar schedule advantage down the stretch did not work for the Yankees: they could only split six games vs. the Giants and Jays, and they were put out of the race when the Rays came to the Bronx and swept a team comprised mostly of tired old retreads. 2013 is only the second year since 1996 that the Yankees have missed the playoffs.]
No six-way tie to tangle up the post-season this year, kiddies. Naturally, it's a shame: we'd love to have seen five acts of foreplay before the main event, but then again we're just kinky that way.
Last night it certainly seemed that the Indians were the team of operatic destiny, blowing a lead in the top of the ninth to the lowly White Sox and then charging back on old warhorse Jason Giambi's pinch-hit walk-off homer. The Rays have matched the Tribe's five-game winning streak, and these two teams seem to be sprinting toward the finish line. The Rangers are now the only team really in the race with either of them.
The Royals ran up against the Mariners' impressive rookie right-hander James Paxton last night, and wound up being blanked, 4-0. That puts them four behind the Indians with five to play. While Ned Yost has done a fine job deploying his pitching staff, particularly in the second half of the season, KC just hasn't developed a consistent enough offense to get itself over the hump in 2013. Of all the teams vying for the post-season, the Royals have scored six or more runs in a game the least number of times (41). The three division winners in the AL (Boston, Detroit, Oakland) are 1-2-3 in that stat, and have a collective average of 64 such games.