AL West, second wild card provide final week's intrigue

Baseball Truth be told, most scoreboard watching this week, the last in the regular season, will be done through champagne goggles.The Mets, Cardinals, Pirates, Cubs and Dodgers? In, in, in, in and in, their NL postseason berths properly celebrated. Same for the AL's Blue Jays, Royals and, let's be realistic here, for all intents and purposes, the Yankees, too. MORE: 13 times September swoons became October magicThat leaves two real races: the AL West and second wild card. Discounting the mathematically alive but walking-dead Indians, Orioles, Red Sox and Rays in the latter, you've got four teams trying to squeeze into two postseason berths.The Rangers, Astros and Angels are sorting out the AL West; throw the Twins into that group and you've got the second wild-card race.The Rangers, despite dropping two of three in Houston over the weekend, are in the driver's seat, still up three games in the loss column on their division rivals, even if manager Jeff Banister's assessment of the final week included a Freudian slip after back-to-back losses to his nearest competitor."You're 2 1/2 games back in the division, headed home for the rest of your games," Banister said (via the Dallas Morning News), before being asked a clarifying "Who's 2 1/2 games back?" by a reporter."Sorry ... we're 2 1/2 games ahead," Banister said, blushing. "They're 2 1/2 back."MORE: Dallas Keuchel's Cy Young case | Players seeking October cash-inThe Rangers do, in fact, play their last seven at home but actually are better on the road (45-36). The Astros, who play their last six on the road, with an off-day Thursday, carry this baggage to Seattle and Arizona: They're 29-46 away from Minute Maid Park. The Angels get the benefit of playing their last four against the first-place Rangers. The Twins benefit from closing with three against the Royals, who likely will be resting regulars and lining up their rotation and bullpen.Here's your final week in a nutshell (click here for an expanded look, including

probable starting pitchers): Rangers (84-71): vs. Tigers (3), vs. Angels (4) Astros (82-74): at Mariners (3), at Diamondbacks (3) Angels (81-74): vs. Athletics (3), at Rangers (4) Twins (80-75): at Indians (4), vs. Royals (3)


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