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AL playoff race reset: A’s have chance to pass Yankees for top wild card spot

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We have officially reached the home stretch of MLB’s regular season. With just two weeks remaining, the A’s have all but locked up a playoff spot, as they lead the Rays by seven games and the Mariners by 7 1/2 for the second AL Wild Card position.

Oakland could still pass the Yankees for the top Wild Card spot, which would give them home field advantage in the AL Wild Card Game. New York is clinging to a 1 1/2 game lead with four series remaining for each team.

The A’s still have an outside chance of catching Houston in the AL West, although that appears extremely unlikely. The defending World Series champions have opened up a 4 1/2 game lead, including five games in the all-important loss column.

With all of that in mind, here’s how the remaining schedules break down for the A’s, Yankees, and Astros:

A’s (90-60):
vs Angels (74-76) — 3 games
vs Twins (68-81) — 3 games
@ Mariners (82-67) — 3 games
@ Angels (74-76) — 3 games

Home: 6 games
Away: 6 games

vs teams above .500: 3 games
vs teams below .500: 9 games

Opponents’ winning percentage: .498

Astros (94-55):
vs Mariners (82-67) — 3 games
vs Angels (74-76) — 3 games
@ Blue Jays (67-82) — 3 games
@ Orioles (43-106) — 4 games

Home: 6 games
Road: 7 games

vs teams above .500: 3 games
vs teams below .500: 10 games

Opponents’ winning percentage: .434

Yankees (91-58):
vs Red Sox (103-47) — 3 games
vs Orioles (43-106) — 3 games
@ Rays (82-66) — 4 games
@ Red Sox (103-47) — 3 games

Home: 6 games
Road: 7 games

vs teams above .500: 10 games
vs teams below .500: 3 games

Opponents’ winning percentage: .554

Analysis
Clearly, the Yankees have the most difficult remaining schedule. New York has to play the 103-win Red Sox six more times and a four-game series at red-hot Tampa Bay. The Yankees are just 5-8 against Boston this season and 7-8 against the Rays. New York has struggled against everyone recently, losing four of its last five games, and eight of its last 13.

The Astros’ schedule, on the other hand, is a picnic, with seven games against the lowly Orioles and Blue Jays, and the other six contests at home. It’s hard to see Houston losing more than four games the rest of the way, which essentially means they have locked up the division title.

The A’s have a manageable schedule, with three of their final four series coming against teams below .500. Even the Mariners, at 82-67, have struggled since the All-Star break. Oakland will have an excellent opportunity to pass the Yankees and host the Wild Card Game.

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