A Truly Wild AL Wild Card

Miguel+Sano+%2822%29+is+one+of+the+main+reasons+the+Twins+have+a+chance+for+the+second+AL+Wild+Card.
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A Truly Wild AL Wild Card

Miguel Sano (22) is one of the main reasons the Twins have a chance for the second AL Wild Card.

Miguel Sano (22) is one of the main reasons the Twins have a chance for the second AL Wild Card.

Miguel Sano (22) is one of the main reasons the Twins have a chance for the second AL Wild Card.

Miguel Sano (22) is one of the main reasons the Twins have a chance for the second AL Wild Card.

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Miguel Sano (22) is one of the main reasons the Twins have a chance for the second AL Wild Card. (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

By Evan Biancardi

Despite having played over 100 games, eight teams still vie for the two American League wild card spots. As of Sunday, the Yankees hold a firm lead on the top spot, but the seven teams are all still in the race and within only a few games of each another: Twins, Angels, Rangers, Orioles, Royals, Mariners and Rays. Of those seven, there are three that stick out to me.

Los Angeles Angels

Many baseball fans would love to see Mike Trout playing in October, and the Angels front office did everything they could to ensure the fans got what they wanted. Entering the season with a mediocre offense and shaky pitching staff, the Halos got down to business on Aug. 31, acquiring outfielder Justin Upton and second baseman Brandon Phillips.

Looking ahead, the Angels will be tested, as they’ll play 15 of their remaining 19 games against playoff contenders, including six against the Astros and three against both the Rangers and Mariners. On one hand, it’s a difficult schedule that includes 12 home games. But on the bright side, the Angels are in control of their own destiny.

Minnesota Twins

The Twins have arguably been the most interesting team of the season. Within striking distance of the division at the break, the Twins acquired Jaime Garcia from the Braves only to ship him to the Bronx just six days later due to 10-15 record in July. After going 20-10 in August, the Twins are very much back in it and undoubtedly have the easiest schedule moving forward.

Timely hitting has proved to be the difference-maker. Eddie Rosario slugged .605 in August, Byron Buxton has hit .312 with nine home runs since the break, and right on cue, Brian Dozier has officially woken up. With Miguel Sano returning from his shin injury, this offense could potentially be the most dynamic of the teams bidding for the second wild card spot. While the Twins may not have the deepest rotation, the acquisition of Bartolo Colon has been helpful, and with Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios exceeding all expectations, it’s very possible we may see October baseball in Minnesota.

Seattle Mariners

The Mariners probably have the best roster of the contending clubs. With names like Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Felix Hernandez, it’s puzzling that this group has yet to reach the playoffs. Like in recent years, the problem has been timing; they’ve been unable to get on any sort of run and injuries have plagued them tremendously.

Over their remaining 19 games, the M’s will play seven against the Rangers and three against the Angels. Things have to go right for them if they’re going to take advantage of this schedule, though. They need James Paxton and King Felix to get healthy, and more than anything, they have to start hitting consistently. Their 35-44 record against winning clubs isn’t encouraging, I know, but their 26-13 record in one-run games marks the best in baseball and we all know how important closing games are down the stretch.

It’s going to be a fight to the finish and regardless of who claims that final spot, we’re in for an exciting two and half weeks of baseball.