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The Playoff Race: Kansas City Royals Tighten Grip on 2nd Wild Card

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Sep 21, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals pitcher Kelvin Herrera (40) delivers a pitch against the Detroit Tigers during the seventh inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

What a difference a day makes! Saturday was nothings short of awful for the Kansas City Royals‘ playoff chances. Sunday, however, saw the Royals both gain ground on the Tigers, and get a better grip on the 2nd wild card with a 5-2 victory over the Tigers in their final regular-season game at Kauffman Stadium in 2014.

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Kansas City rode a solid start by Jeremy Guthrie (5.1 innings, 1 earned run), and Nori Aoki‘s key 2-run triple for the win. Even manager Ned Yost made a good call by bringing in Kelvin Herrera in the 6th inning to get Guthrie out of a 2-on, 1 out jam. Herrera pitched 1.2 innings, rather than his normal 1, as the bridge to Wade Davis and Greg Holland.

The win over the Tigers pulled the Royals within 1.5 games of the A.L. Central lead with 8 games to play (including the suspended game vs. the Indians on Monday that will most certainly be a loss). While losing 2 out of 3 to the Tigers was very damaging after failing to dominate the Red Sox and White Sox in their final homestand, at least the Royals go into the season’s final week with a reasonable shot at the A.L. Central title.

A.L. CENTRAL

RkTmWLW-L%GBStrkExInn1Run≥.500<.500last10last20last30
1DET8669.555L 16-622-2049-3937-306-412-818-12
2KCR8470.5451.5W 15-722-2342-4442-274-610-1014-16
3CLE8174.5235.0W 213-823-2135-4547-295-511-918-12
4CHW7184.45815.0W 16-827-2343-5428-306-410-1012-18
5MIN6689.42620.0L 26-720-2442-6224-274-67-1311-19

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table.

Detroit could have put a strangle-hold on their 4th straight A..L. Central title with a victory in Kansas City on Sunday. However, they still have a favorable schedule in their final 7 games. The Tigers go home to host a 3-game series against 4th-place Chicago, and finished with a 4-game set against the last-place Twins.

Meanwhile, Kansas City hits the road for a 4-game set (including the suspended game) against the tough Indians and finish the season with a 4-game series against the White Sox in Chicago.

Kansas City needs to make up 2 games in their last 2 series.

Meanwhile, the Indians stayed on the outside of their race by beating Minnesota 7-2. Their hopes for an A.L. Central title rest on collapse by the Tigers and a sweep in Kansas City.

A.L. WILD CARD

RkTmWLW-L%GBStrkExInn1RunvRHP<.500last10last20last30
4 OAK8570.548W 113-821-2562-4742-324-67-1311-19
5 KCR8470.545W 15-722-2361-5142-274-610-1014-16
6 SEA8372.5351.5L 23-716-2653-5142-404-610-1015-15
7 CLE8174.5233.5W 213-823-2158-5047-295-511-918-12
8 NYY8075.5164.5W 17-726-2357-5541-325-510-1016-14
9 TOR7877.5036.5L 15-814-1960-5842-322-810-1014-16

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table.

Josh Donaldson slammed his 28th home run to give the Oakland A’s a much-needed 8-6 victory over the Phillies in the 10th inning. The win allowed the A’s to hold on to the A.L.’s top wild card spot by 1/2 game over the Royals.

The Seattle Mariners, however, lost 8-3 to the Houston Astros to fall 1.5 games behind Kansas City for the A.L.’s 2nd wild card.

Cleveland stayed in the hunt for the 2nd wild card with their win over Minnesota. The Indians sit 3.5 games behind the Royals, with 4 games against Kansas City at home. The Indians need a 4 game sweep (including the suspended game which will be completed Monday) plus a tough week from Seattle to sneak into the wild card picture.

The Yankees and Blue Jays would likely need to win all their remaining games, and hope for complete collapses from their competitors to snatch a wild card. Don’t count on it.