Rays Win In 18, Set Stage For Wide-Open Wild Card Finish

I gave up on this game in the 16th. If only the Orioles were so sleepy, they could have been spared two further innings and grief. And, who knows, maybe if it ends in 16, Kelly Johnson here doesn't get drilled with DeJesus's helmet after a celebratory heave. But that's baseball: unpredictable. Sometimes it takes two full games to decide who wins and sometimes it doesn't even take one.

With the help of a 2-1, rain-shortened victory, the Indians could have jumped to the top of the wild card standings with a Tampa Bay loss, edging the Rays by a half game. Instead, Cleveland ousted the Rangers, who began the night tied for the wild card but lost to the Royals and now sit a half game out. The Rays, eventually, kept pace and kept the rest of the dreamers in the American League from creeping further up the standings. The Royals and Orioles are two-and-a-half games out and the Yankees three.

Rays Win In 18, Set Stage For Wide-Open Wild Card Finish

I don't know, either.

Not much is likely to change in the standings this weekend, though, unless two team gets particularly hot or cold; everyone is playing each other. (Except Cleveland, who are riding some kind of karmic train right through the worst teams in baseball; after they finish up with the Astros this weekend, they've got the White Sox and Twins.) Rays-O's and Royals-Rangers will make it hard for anyone to run away with a playoff spot (or lose out on one)—someone's got to win and someone's got to lose—but next week the only intra-wild-card matchup will be the Yankees and Tampa Bay. That's when moves, if they're to be made at all, will be made.

That, of course, is the genius of the second wild card spot. This weekend is likely the calm before next week's storm. The New York Yankees, who—despite Alex Rodriguez's slap grand slam last night—look like the fictionalized Indians before Jake Taylor and Wild Thing got their shit together, are still technically alive. If they can string a few hits together and hold serve they will be playing high-stakes games in the last week of the season. The Rangers, who have pissed away a six-and-a-half game lead with a 4-14 September, are still right there. The Royals—holy shit, the Royals—could be playing for a playoff spot for the first time in almost 30 years. All the Indians have to do is show up against the Sox and Twins and they'll be good to go.

They all just have to get through the weekend.