For two AL races, all roads lead to Arlington
The season may be winding down, but plenty of drama remains. Two American League playoff spots will be on the line on Friday, when the Rangers and Angels meet in Arlington at 8:05 p.m. ET. Texas, which clinched a postseason berth with its 5-3 win over the Angels on Thursday night, currently leads the AL West by three games over the second-place Astros, and the Angels are four behind Texas, tied with the Twins and one game behind Houston for the second AL Wild Card spot.
Texas, which can clinch the AL West title with a win or an Astros loss to the D-backs, will start southpaw Martin Perez (3-6, 4.77 ERA) against veteran right-hander Jered Weaver (7-12, 4.76 ERA). Perez, who lost his most recent start, went 1-3 with a 4.18 ERA in September and is 3-1 with a 4.71 ERA in five starts at home this season. Weaver, meanwhile, has been dealing with a case of stiffness in his pitching shoulder. Weaver held the Mariners to one run in his last start but had to leave after five innings due to discomfort.
Here are a few other matchups and games to look forward to on Friday.
Hot in Pursuit: HOU @ ARI, 9:40 p.m. ET
Every game matters for Houston, which is trying to secure its first postseason appearence since advancing to the World Series in 2005. The Astros have spent 127 days in first place this season, and with a strong weekend, they may be able to hold off the Angels and earn a spot in Tuesday's AL Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser.
Friday's Astros starter, Dallas Keuchel, can become the eighth 20-game winner in franchise history. Keuchel went 15-0 at home this year, but he's 4-8 with a 3.82 ERA on the road. The D-backs will go with right-hander Rubby De La Rosa, who has gone 8-3 with a 3.82 ERA across his last 13 starts.
Top Spot at Stake: TOR @ TB, 7:10 p.m. ET
The Blue Jays have already locked up their first division title since 1993, and now they're playing to cement home-field advantage throughout the postseason. Although it has the same record as Kansas City, Toronto holds the tiebreaker and would claim home-field if the two clubs finish with the same record.
Friday's Blue Jays starter, Mark Buehrle, needs a big game to reach a personal milestone. If the southpaw can throw 8 2/3 innings, he'll be just the fourth pitcher in history to reach 200 innings for 15 straight seasons. Hall of Famers Warren Spahn, Don Sutton and Gaylord Perry are the only members of that group. The Rays will start Erasmo Ramirez, who has gone 11-6 with a 3.65 ERA in 33 outings this season.