Six AL teams within 3 1/2 games of a Wild Card berth with 9 days left? You betcha.
How crazy is this American League Wild Card race? Don’t blink or you’ll miss something important, and I speak as one who stayed with the Rays and Orioles for their 6-hour, 54-minute marathon that ended at 2:05 a.m. Saturday.
In case you missed it, the Rays won it 5-4 in the bottom of the 18th inning. Forty-nine players got into the game, including 28 pitchers, who threw 593 pitches.
It was a huge loss to the Orioles because it dropped them two games behind the Indians in the loss column.
Anyway, the Rays have 69 losses, the Indians and Rangers 70, the Orioles and Royals 72 and the Yankees 73. Here are some numbers:
- The last time the top three Wild Card teams were this close this late in the season was 1998 when the Cubs, Mets and Giants were 88-72 on Sept. 25.
- This is the first time six teams have been within 3 1/2 games of the top Wild Card spot on this date since the Wild Card was born in 1995.
- The Rays and Rangers have had a terrible few weeks, but they’re still in good shape to grab the two spots. There’s some history to be made there, too.
The Rays have won six of nine after losing 13 of 17. The Rangers have lost 14 of 18. Only four teams in the Wild Card era have made the postseason have enduring slumps of 4-13 or worse in the final six games. Here’s the list: 2008 Brewers, 2000 Yankees, 2000 Mariners and 1995 Yankees.
The Rays have won three of five in a stretch in which they’re playing 11 in a row against teams within 3 1/2 games of a postseason berth. They’ve got two more against the Orioles and then three at Yankee Stadium beginning Tuesday.