Ball Star

Andy McCullough blogs about the Royals and baseball

The Rundown: Breaking down the American League playoff race

08/10/2013 6:27 PM

08/10/2013 11:57 PM

BOSTON RED SOX

• RECORD:

70-48

• SINCE ALL-STAR BREAK:

12-9

• RUNS FOR-AGAINST:

5.06-4.19

• PLAYOFF CHANCES:

91.5 percent

• AVERAGE OPPONENT RECORD:

58-56

• THE SKINNY:

The Red Sox are second in the league in runs per game, so the offense is just fine. But perhaps the best statistic for Red Sox fans is the team’s 28-20 mark against AL East teams. If Boston maintains that, it will have a good shot to win the East. Boston also has the second-best home record at 39-21.

TAMPA BAY RAYS

• RECORD:

66-48

• SINCE ALL-STAR BREAK:

11-7

• RUNS FOR-AGAINST:

4.56-4.03

• PLAYOFF CHANCES:

78.0 percent

• AVERAGE OPPONENT RECORD:

58-56

• THE SKINNY:

The Rays have won 21 of their last 30 games, and while offense seemingly is their Achilles’ heel, Wil Myers and Evan Longoria are two solid bats. Myers has lived up to the billing — eight homers, 30 RBIs and a .923 OPS in just 32 games. The Rays have been good at home, going 37-21. Closer Fernando Rodney was roughed up Friday, but he’s done much better lately than earlier in the season.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

• RECORD:

64-51

• SINCE ALL-STAR BREAK:

11-8

• RUNS FOR-AGAINST:

4.75-4.45

• PLAYOFF CHANCES:

42.3 percent

• AVERAGE OPPONENT RECORD:

59-55

• THE SKINNY:

Baltimore is third in the AL in runs scored (4.75 per game), and they upgraded their pitching staff at the trade deadline. Seems unlikely that Chris Davis can continue his rampage from prior to the All-Star break, but he, Adam Jones and Manny Machado are a terrific trio. Experience in last year’s run to the playoffs will be beneficial.

NEW YORK YANKEES

• RECORD:

58-56

• SINCE ALL-STAR BREAK:

7-12

• RUNS FOR-AGAINST:

3.79-3.96

• PLAYOFF CHANCES:

2.5 percent

• AVERAGE OPPONENT RECORD:

58-56

• THE SKINNY:

Who’d have thunk it? This is the weakest team in the bunch. One example: Yankees right-handed hitters have a .599 OPS, their lowest since 1983. Add in an aging roster, continued injury problems for Derek Jeter and the A-Rod soap opera, and it’s hard to see New York in the playoffs this season.

DETROIT TIGERS

• RECORD:

68-46

• SINCE ALL-STAR BREAK:

16-4

• RUNS FOR-AGAINST:

5.13-3.82

• PLAYOFF CHANCES:

97.6 percent

• AVERAGE OPPONENT RECORD:

54-59

• THE SKINNY:

Talk about good pitching: In their recent 12-game winning streak, the Tigers had 12 quality starts and the starters gave up 14 total earned runs. While Prince Fielder hasn’t been his usual self, Torii Hunter continues to defy Father Time, Victor Martinez has a .970 OPS since July 1 and Miguel Cabrera still does stuff that makes you shake your head. This team was built to win a World Series and they’ll be tough to unseat as Central Division champions.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

• RECORD:

62-54

• SINCE ALL-STAR BREAK:

11-10

• RUNS FOR-AGAINST:

4.64-4.36

• PLAYOFF CHANCES:

20.2 percent

• AVERAGE OPPONENT RECORD:

54-59

• THE SKINNY:

Corey Kluber and Scott Kazmir have been revelations in the rotation, but ... Kluber was put on the disabled list this week and Kazmir admitted Friday he has “a little bit of dead-arm fatigue.” Other woes: the bullpen is suspect and the Indians have lost five straight. However, manager Terry Francona is one of the game’s best and he guided the Indians past an earlier stretch of poor play.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

• RECORD:

60-53

• RECORD SINCE ALL-STAR BREAK:

17-4

• RUNS FOR-AGAINST:

4.08-3.82

• PLAYOFF CHANCES:

21.0 percent

• AVERAGE OPPONENT RECORD:

56-57

• THE SKINNY:

The Royals are tied with the Tigers for the fewest runs allowed per game (3.82) and have the league’s best bullpen. While they’re in the bottom half of the league in runs per game, there’s reason to hope the offense can be more consistent with Eric Hosmer’s progress, Billy Butler’s resume and the solid numbers Alex Gordon put up earlier in the year.

OAKLAND A’S

• RECORD:

65-49

• SINCE ALL-STAR BREAK:

9-10

• RUNS FOR-AGAINST:

4.46-3.91

• PLAYOFF CHANCES:

71.8 percent

• AVERAGE OPPONENT RECORD:

55-59

• THE SKINNY:

Fans have to be thrilled to see Josh Reddick break out of a recent slump in a big way with a three home-run game Friday. But there are concerns about the offense, particularly if Yoenis Cespedes continues to struggle with injuries. However, Oakland has the third-best ERA in the AL at 3.64 and the staff’s 1.19 WHIP is the league’s best. The A’s bullpen trails only the Royals in ERA, with Oakland relievers compiling a 2.99 mark. Oakland has the AL’s best record in one-run games at 21-13.

TEXAS RANGERS

• RECORD:

66-50

• SINCE ALL-STAR BREAK:

12-9

• RUNS FOR-AGAINST:

4.39-4.00

• PLAYOFF CHANCES:

74.7 percent

• AVERAGE OPPONENT RECORD:

53-60

• THE SKINNY:

Trading for White Sox outfielder Alex Rios fills a void in the lineup left by the suspended Nelson Cruz. The Rangers have a good bullpen as well (3.01 ERA) and the pitching staff has the fifth-most strikeouts in the AL (918), led by Yu Darvish. Texas’ playoff pedigree can’t be ignored (three straight appearances) and the Rangers have the easiest schedule from here on out.

Note: Playoff chances as calculated by ESPN; Average opponent record determined by Baseball-reference.com. Statistics heading into Saturday

Statistically speaking

• Over the course of the Dodgers’ recently concluded 15-game road winning streak, the club’s pitchers gave up no unearned runs and issued just one intentional walk.

• Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke was batting .405 (15 for 37), and could challenge Walter Johnson's 1925 mark of .433 (42 for 97), the highest full-season batting average for a major-league pitcher since 1900.

• Toronto’s R.A. Dickey has a 4-1 record with a 1.43 ERA in the seven games he’s pitched on the West Coast over the last three seasons.

You need to know

• Angels starter Jered Weaver has gone 1,437 days since last giving up an intentional walk (Sept. 4, 2009, to the Royals’ Mark Teahen).

• Cleveland pitcher Corey Kluber was placed on the DL because of a sprained right middle finger. This is the fourth time in the last six years and the second time this year the Indians have lost a starting pitcher for an extensive period of time.

• From ESPN: With the Rays playing the Dodgers in LA for first time this weekend, it leaves only one team that has never played host to another: The Padres have yet to play in Toronto.

On deck

• The Rays’ James Loney is two doubles away from 200 for his career.

• The Royals open a five-game series in Detroit on Thursday.

• Cleveland and Oakland start a weekend series on Friday.

Words of wisdom

“It’s not often that I sit in the dugout and say, ‘Holy (cow).’ ”

| Tigers manager Jim Leyland on Indians rookie pitcher Danny Salazar

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