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American League playoff race weekly recap: August 9th-15th

Catching up on everything that went down this past week with the teams directly racing the Yankees in a fight for a playoff spot.

Syndication: USA TODAY Zach Boyden-Holmes/The Register, Des Moines Register via Imagn Content Services, LLC

It’s time for the second edition of our playoff weekly recap, and boy has it been a busy one for the chase to compete for the American League pennant.

The way that things currently stand, nothing has changed in terms of the teams we’ll be following. Neither the Cleveland soon-to-be-Guardians nor the Los Angeles Angels have played well enough to justify being included in this roundup. As a reminder, the Chicago White Sox will not be featured either, as they have a commanding AL Central lead and are not on any kind of playoff bubble.

Let’s get into the weekly records for the following playoff contenders:

AL East:

Tampa Bay Rays
Boston Red Sox
New York Yankees
Toronto Blue Jays

AL West:

Houston Astros
Oakland Athletics
Seattle Mariners

Tampa Bay Rays (71-47)

Weekly Record: 3-3

The AL East-leading Rays traveled to Boston for a three-game series with the Red Sox and although the home team may have won the run differential battle (25-24), the visitors came away with the series win and a statement of their own, scoring eight runs in each of the three games.

The offense kept it going with a 10 spot in their first game in Minnesota against the Twins — recent addition Nelson Cruz’s first game back in the Twin Cities since being dealt in July. Thing were looking up for them when suddenly, Minnesota upset them in the final two games of the series. Their AL East lead over Boston is now just three games.

Next week, a seven-game homestand awaits with four against the Baltimore Orioles and three versus the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox.

Boston Red Sox (69-51)

Weekly Record: 4-2

The BoSox actually lost a game in the AL East standings because their 20-run outburst against the Rays came sandwiched in between two losses. At that point entering the weekend, nothing more than a sweep of the last-place Orioles would’ve done much good for them ... but they came through, outscoring Baltimore by a combined margin of 30-5.

Next week begins with a three-game set down in New York, and it will be the first time for the deadline acquisitions to play a role in this bitter rivalry. Then, it’s back to Fenway for three with the lowly Rangers.

New York Yankees (65-52)

Weekly Record: 4-2

It’s been a busy road trip for the Bombers, first stopping in Kansas City, and then traveling up to Iowa for the Fields of Dreams game with the White Sox on Thursday before finishing the week out on the south side of Chicago.

The tight 2-1 series win over the Royals quickly got put in the rear-view mirror with the bitter walk-off loss in Dyersville on Tim Anderson’s walk-off home run. To their credit, the Yankees recovered when the series shifted to Guaranteed Rate Field, as they captured back-to-back nail-biters in Chicago to win the series.

Next week will bring an eight-game homestand that includes a makeup against the Angels on Monday and a doubleheader with the Red Sox on Tuesday. They’ll wrap up their home series with Boston on Wednesday and then begin a four-game set with the Minnesota Twins that will take them through next weekend.

Toronto Blue Jays (63-54)

Weekly Record: 3-4

In a battle of the top two active players in baseball this year, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Shohei Ohtani, the four-game set between the Blue Jays and Angels ended in a tie, as each team took two wins apiece.

Toronto then flew up to Seattle for a weekend set with serious Wild Card implications. Despite a 178-run advantage in season run differential, the Blue Jays led the Mariners by only two games. Seattle quickly erased that advantage with back-to-back wins, forcing Toronto to fight to salvage the Sunday finale (which they did).

The marathon road trip ends next week after a Monday off-day and two games in D.C. against the depleted Nationals. The Blue Jays will finish next week back at home with a three-game set against Detroit.

Houston Astros (70-47)

Weekly Record: 4-1

The Astros made quick work of the Colorado Rockies with a couple of easy wins in Houston to begin the week before heading to California to play the Los Angeles Angels. They won the opener on Friday behind Zack Greinke, 4-1 and rookie Jake Meyers belted the first two homers of his career to secure another victory on Saturday.

The Halos snapped Houston’s winning streak on Sunday behind Reid Detmers, so the Astros’ AL West lead over Oakland sits at 2.5 games. The road trip’s next stop is in Kansas City to play four with the Royals before another divisional matchup against the Seattle Mariners at home.

Oakland Athletics (68-50)

Weekly Record: 4-2

The week couldn’t have gotten off to a better start for Oakland with a sweep on the road in Cleveland. However, the last-place Rangers surprised them to take both the opener of the weekend set in Arlington and the Sunday finale. The best that the A’s could do was win on Saturday between the losses, and they now sit in a dead heat with the Red Sox for the top two AL Wild Card spots.

Next week will be a true battle for the A’s. After all, they’ll be facing a couple of first-place clubs in the Chicago White Sox and San Francisco Giants. Oakland won’t have an off-day either, as the series in Chicago is four games, and they’ll have a standard three-game homestand against the Giants.

Seattle Mariners (63-56)

Weekly Record: 4-2

The Mariners started the week in a rut, as an extra-innings loss to the Rangers on August 10th made them 4-9 since the infamous Kendall Graveman trade. Just when it seemed like they might quietly sink out of the playoff picture entirely, they bounced back to win four in a row against Texas and Toronto with two coming in walk-off fashion. The Blue Jays won the finale, so the M’s ended the week exactly where they ended last week — on the fringe again, 5.5 games back of the Wild Card.

Next week, Seattle goes back on the road, more specifically to the state of Texas to face two divisional rivals: the Rangers from Tuesday to Thursday, and the AL West-leading Astros from Friday to Sunday.