The Los Angeles Angels are one of the hottest teams in baseball, and climbed the AL Wild Card standings ladder into a playoff spot.
The American League Wild Card race has been the most widely contested in recent memory. New teams have shuffled in and out of the last playoff spot all season. This time last week, the Kansas City Royals held on to a slim lead, but after winning six straight games, including a pivotal four-game sweep over the Mariners in Seattle, the Los Angeles Angels moved into the second Wild Card spot, knocking the M’s (who had jumped the Royals early in the week) out of the spot in the process.
Pitching and timely hitting carried the Angels during their winning streak. Los Angeles hasn’t allowed more than five runs in a game during the winning streak, and have surrendered more than three runs just once. A surprising collection of players stepped up in the process. Parker Bridwell, Tyler Skaggs and Troy Scribner led the starting rotation while Cam Bedrosian led the bullpen, and C.J. Cron paced the offense.
Not only did the Royals lose ground to the Angels thanks in large part to four straight losses to the red-hot St. Louis Cardinals early in the week, K.C. fell behind the division rival Twins as well. Minnesota surged up the standings with their own four-game sweep, beating inter-league rival Brewers twice in the Twin Cities and twice in Milwaukee before taking two of three games from the Tigers in Detroit over the weekend.
The Twins exploded offensively during their hot streak. Brian Dozier, Joe Mauer and Eddie Rosario each drove in nine runs in seven games last week. Rosario hit four home runs, while Dozier and Max Kepler both launched three long balls. Jorge Polanco went 13-for-26 at the plate, and Byron Buxton hit .391/.444/.522 with a home run and six RBI.
American League Division Leaders
Boston Red Sox (67-50, .573)
The hottest team in baseball, the Red Sox beat the Yankees 3-2 Sunday night for their 10th win in 11 games. Chris Sale continued his march to the AL Cy Young Award. In two starts, Sale was 1-0 with a 0.60 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 15 innings. He allowed just one run on six hits and three walks combined. He held the Rays scoreless over eight innings August 8 and allowed just one run on four hits and two walks with 12 strikeouts in New York Sunday. Rick Porcello and Eduardo Roguez also posted strong starts for Boston.
Andrew Benintendi was the star of the show offensively for Boston. Benintendi led the club with 10 hits, five runs scored, three home runs and nine RBI in five games last week, hitting .455/.458/.909 in the process. His last RBI came on a game-winning single in the 10th inning Sunday. Rafael Devers and Hanley Ramirez also homered, with Devers’ coming on a 103 mph fastball from Aroldis Chapman to tie the game Sunday.
Cleveland Indians (63-52, .548)
Corey Kluber is still in the mix for the Cy Young after another strong performance for the Tribe last week. Kluber was 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two starts and struck out 20 while allowing seven hits and two walks in 16 innings combined. Carlos Carrasco and Mike Clevinger tossed a combined 15 scoreless innings for Cleveland in their starts, and Trevor Bauer and Danny Salazar each allowed a single run in theirs.
Houston Astros (72-45, .615)
The Astros finally picked up a win with a 2-1 victory over the Rangers Sunday. Dallas Keuchel earned win No. 10 of the season after holding Texas to one run on six hits and three walks in 6.2 innings. The win snapped a five-game losing streak for Houston, and the club has lost 12 of its last 17 contests.