Houston is holding on to its lead over Oakland, which as of Sept. 22nd stood at four games in the loss column. The Astros wrap up their home regular season against the Angels on the 23rd and finish out the season on the road with three games in Toronto and four in Baltimore. Houston looks in good shape with a baseball-best 52-22 (+25 units) away from home this season.
The Athletics realize they are running out of time to catch Houston, but are still holding out hope to surpass the Yankees for the Wild Card. It will not be easy for the A's, having to travel to Seattle and Anaheim, though they are a solid 44-31 (+19) in the away uniforms. But Oakland can still hold on to hope they can close a two-game gap because the New York Yankees will be at Tampa Bay and Boston. Hard to say what kind of lineup the Red Sox might deploy, but you know the Rays will be gunning for more wins. The Yanks are 42-32 (-5.9) outside the Bronx.
The National League Offers More Intrigue
Though not official, unless Atlanta does not win another game the rest of the regular season, the Braves seem to have enough distance from Philadelphia to wrap up the NL East.
The NL Central is a two-horse race with the Chicago Cubs trying to hold off Milwaukee. The Cubs are essentially in the postseason, but they are a very tired team and are trying to survive a schedule that had rainouts on the day of the game, which ate into off days. The Cubs offense has been home runs or nothing and their starting pitching mostly unreliable. Chicago has Pittsburgh (4-games) and St. Louis (3) at Wrigley Field to close the season. Those could all be important contests for the Cubs who are an NL-best 47-27 at home (+4.2).
At the very least, Milwaukee wants to host the Wild Card game and could all but assure they do with a sweep of St. Louis at Busch Stadium (3-3 this season) to start the week. Even if the Brewers just win the series versus the Cardinals, they should be in good shape, making the short trip to Detroit for a series triumph.
In the NL West, the Dodgers finally seized the moment and swept Colorado to take the division lead. After facing San Diego, Los Angeles will face fading Arizona and San Francisco, who seem out of gas. The Dodgers are 43-32 (-1.0) in the traveling grays.
The Rockies were swept by the Dodgers gave credence to those who follow run differential. (Like this writer) Going into that series the run differential was +146, favoring L.A. and it grew from there. That is not to say Colorado cannot come back in the division or bypass St. Louis for the Wild Card. The Rocks have not been as strong at Coors Field this year with a 41-33 mark (-0.3), but if they win at least six of seven on the last homestand, they would have a shot for the playoffs.
As mentioned before, St. Louis faces the Brew Crew at home and is in Chicago. The simplest way to look the Redbirds position, they really will determine their own Wild Card fate.