• It’s going to be a fun chase for the American League wild card through the end of September. After Wednesday’s games, the five teams contending for the second wild-card playoff spot had 78, 78, 77, 77 and 77 wins.
• Entering Friday night’s games, the Texas Rangers had a two-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays for the first wild-card spot (81-64) but had won just two of their past 10 games. The Rays (79-66) held a one-game lead over the New York Yankees for the second wild-card spot. That left the Yankees, the Indians (1.5 games behind), the Baltimore Orioles (2.5 games behind) and the Kansas City Royals (2.5 games behind) all within striking distance.
• The Yankees, though, lost their captain last week. Shortstop Derek Jeter was placed on the disabled list because of further complications with the broken left ankle he suffered in Game 1 of the 2012 American League Championship Series. Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman said even if the Yankees make the playoffs, Jeter won’t return. Jeter led the AL in plate appearances (740), at-bats (643) and hits (216) in 2012 but played only 17 games this season, divided among three separate comeback attempts from that broken ankle. It also means that Mariano Rivera and Jeter have played in their last game together, as Rivera is set to retire at season’s end. Brendan Ryan, hitting .190 this season, will receive more at-bats but the Yankees could take further action.
• Another race that’s heating up? The AL Cy Young. And the two contenders are both in the AL Central. Detroit Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer, entering the weekend games, is 19-3 with a 3.01 ERA and 215 strikeouts. Scherzer appeared to have the award all but locked up but has been hit hard in two consecutive starts, going 0-2 with a 6.19 ERA. Chicago White Sox pitcher Chris Sale has been just as talented but on a much worse team. Sale is 11-12 with a 2.90 ERA and 207 strikeouts. He’s also averaged more innings pitched per start and has four complete games.
• Just like Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera’s MVP race last year brought “WAR” into the national baseball discussion, Sale and Scherzer are about continue one over wins. Many around the game, like MLB Network’s Brian Kenny, want to kill the wins stat, as it’s too reliant on the team’s lineup and not the pitcher itself, they claim. Scherzer, of course, would be the clear Cy Young choice if that stat is included. Some around the game think that’s too narrow of a measure to decide such a prestigious award.
— Ryan Lewis