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American League playoff race weekly recap: August 23rd-28th

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Here's everything that happened with the AL’s top contenders over the past week.

MLB: New York Yankees at Oakland Athletics Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The final stretch is upon us, and with each day, the postseason picture becomes a little bit clearer. With that in mind let’s take a look at how each American League postseason contender fared during the past week. For this week, results will be as of the end of play on Saturday since the Yankees are the late game on Sunday.

With the A’s skid we’ll remove the Astros from this segment, just as we’ve done with the frontrunning White Sox. Houston’s 6.5-game lead in the AL West seems out of reach at this point. Anything could happen, but an A’s comeback would be a huge development. (If needed, we’ll bring the Astros back into the mix.)

Here are the teams that we’ll discuss:

AL East:

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

AL West:

Oakland Athletics
Seattle Mariners

Tampa Bay Rays (81-42)

Weekly Record: 4-0

The defending AL champs are making the most out of a short week, one that included a couple of days off to travel from Tampa to Philadelphia and then to Baltimore.

Their current six-game streak is a great way to keep pace with the red-hot Yankees and maintain a somewhat comfortable four-game lead in the division. Nelson Cruz got his first start ever at first base during their interleague matchup with the Phillies and he made the most of it with a go ahead two run double in a 3-1 win.

After their road trip ends, the Rays will return home to play four against the Red Sox and then three with the Twins.

New York Yankees (76-53)

Weekly Record: 4-1

They say that winning fixes everything, and who better than this team to attest to that. The New York Yankees have 13 games in a row to position themselves as real threats in the AL in 2021 after a rough first half.

This road trip has already seen the ball club sweep a two game set in Atlanta and win each of the first two against the A’s moving past a pretty poor record in Oakland over the last few years, though the Bombers of course saw their long streak finally end yesterday.

The Los Angeles Angels await for three in Anaheim, before the Yankees head home for three with the Orioles. They should have every chance to keep the good times rolling.

Boston Red Sox (75-56)

Weekly Record: 5-1

An .833 winning percentage would seem a lot better if the two teams ahead of you in the division had actually lost a few games, but you only control what you control, and the Red Sox are making the most out of a difficult situation.

The following series should be a huge one, with four to be played in Tampa before the Sox come back home to face Cleveland for a second time during a 10-day span.

Toronto Blue Jays (67-61)

Weekly Record: 3-3

This is clearly a ball club underperforming, and not just because of what happened this week. Toronto has scuffled to the fringes of the Wild Card chase, but their 75-53 Pythagorean record suggests they’ve played a fair bit better than their record.

Toronto will host Orioles and A’s for a couple of three-game series over next week. At this point, to call a postseason appearance an unlikely outcome is an understatement, but the possibility is still there.

Oakland A’s (71-59)

Weekly Record: 1-4

Oakland has played its way out of the AL West race and into a difficult spot on the Wild Card race, having gone a week between wins before snapping the Yankees’ streak yesterday.

Seattle won both matchups in Oakland, and the Yankees rolled into town to win the first two of their four-game set as well. The A’s need to wake up before the Wild Card also becomes a distant possibility.

Seattle Mariners (69-61)

Weekly Record: 2-3

The Seattle Mariners didn’t seem like they’d be here, but they’re ahead of the Blue Jays despite having a worse roster. Maybe under other circumstances this would be a playoff team, but the extreme will need to happen to make that a reality in 2021.

Following two wins over the Athletics with three losses versus the Royals is hardly ideal, but Seattle will remain alive in the race into September.