Aug 24, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians center fielder Michael Bourn (24) is congratulated by teammates after scoring during the third inning against the Houston Astros at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Week Ahead For AL Playoff Contenders: August 25th

After Minimal Movement in Standings, Tribe Starts Huge Stretch

How things “stand”:

You would think back-to-back series wins would have the Cleveland Indians right back in the thick of the playoff race in the American League. That does not happen when the teams above you in the standings keep winning. Cleveland still sits six games back of the Kansas City Royals, who went 5-2 last week to cap off a nine-game road trip. The Royals haven’t lost a series since the second half of the season opened in Boston on July 18. The Detroit Tigers dropped a half game in the division race and now trail Kansas City by two games.

The wild card situation looks eerily similar to last week as well. The Oakland Athletics, now a game back of the Los Angeles Angels in the AL West, sits alone at the top of the standings. The Seattle Mariners hold the second wild card spot by a single game over the Tigers. The New York Yankees remain three-and-a-half games back of October baseball and Cleveland remains a game-and-a-half behind.

 

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The Week Ahead:

Cleveland Indians

Last week rating/results: Looking Good / 4-2

This week difficulty rating: Could be good, could be bad

Schedule: Off on Monday 8/25, @Chicago White Sox 8/26-8/28, @Kansas City 8/29-8/31

Real quick: This week kicks off a stretch of 30 games in 30 days for the Indians, 25 of which are against Central division foes. They need to take care of business against the White Sox, who have lost eight of their last ten and are coming off the wrong end of back-to-back sweeps. Things could get interesting if they pulled off a couple victories in Missouri.

Kansas City Royals

Aug 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Greg Holland (56) and Kansas City Royals left fielder Alex Gordon (4) celebrate the win over the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. The Royals defeated the Rockies 7-4. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Last week rating/results: Looking Good / 5-2

This week difficulty rating: Looking Good

Schedule: vs New York Yankees 8/25, vs Minnesota 8/26-8/28, vs Cleveland 8/29-8/31

Real quick: The Royals are hot and nobody seems ready to take them out of the oven. New York has been getting the job done recently, winning four in a row and sweeping the White Sox over the weekend. The last time Kansas City and the Minnesota Twins met up in the middle of August, the boys in powder blue took three of four. Minnesota has gone 3-4 since. This all leads up to a showdown with the third-place, six games back, titans of Cleveland.

Detroit Tigers

Last week rating/results: Could be good, could be bad / 4-4

This week difficulty rating: Could be good, could be bad

Schedule: Off on Monday 8/25, vs New York Yankees 8/26-8/28, @Chicago White Sox 8/29-8/31

Real quick: Miguel Cabrera was scratched from Sunday’s lineup with a right ankle injury. He’ll get a day of rest Monday, and no DL trip is expected, but I would still be semi-alarmed if I were a Tigers fan. If the second half of the season was the Delaware River, Brandon McCarthy has been the Yankees’ George Washington since coming over in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Tigers face him on Tuesday. Four game road trips are tough, especially ones with a double header, like Detroit will deal with on Saturday.

Seattle Mariners

Last week rating/results: Looking Good / 5-2

This week difficulty rating: Could be good, could be bad

Schedule: vs Texas 8/25-8/27, vs Washington 8/29-8/31

Real quick: Seattle has been hot. The Washington Nationals have been hotter. A three-gamer against the cellar-dwelling Texas Rangers is key. The Nats have won 12 of their past 13 games, and get three days of batting practice in Philadelphia before traveling to Seattle.

New York Yankees

Aug 9, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy (38) pitches during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Last week rating/results: Could be good, could be bad / 5-2

This week difficulty rating: Could be good, could be bad

Schedule: @Kansas City 8/25, @Detroit 8/26-8/28, @Toronto 8/29-8/31

Real quick: We know about the Royals already. Yanks will get Rick Porcello, who has had somewhat of a breakout year, and David Price, who is David Price, their first two games in Detroit. The Toronto Blue Jays have lost four series in a row and are quickly playing themselves out of wild card contention.

Toronto Blue Jays

Last week rating/results: Not so hot / 2-4

This week difficulty rating: Could be good, could be bad

Schedule: vs Boston 8/25-8/27, off 8/28, vs New York Yankees 8/29-8/31

Real quick: Need to stop the recent bleeding if they want to stay relevant. Enter the Boston Red Sox, losers of eight in a row. Rookie phenom Marcus Stroman has already chewed up Boston twice this year. He goes for the hat-trick in the series finale. The Yankees go from Kansas City to Detroit before crossing the border to Toronto. They are one of the better teams in baseball on the road this year.

Tampa Bay Rays

Last week rating/result: Could be good, could be bad / 3-4

This week difficulty rating: Not so hot

Schedule: @Baltimore 8/25-8/28, vs Boston 8/29-8/31

Real quick: Tampa needs to get hot and they needed to get hot two weeks ago. seven-and-a-half out of the second wild card spot is a pretty large mountain to climb in one month. Unfortunately for them, the division-leading Baltimore Orioles come to town this week, and after being swept by the lowly Chicago Cubs over the weekend (what?), their feathers are ruffled. Boston is on a slide themselves, although it is a slide induced by the Angels and Mariners. Make-or-break time for the Rays.

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