The A's have their eyes firmly planted on hosting the American League Wild Card Game. And after a dominating, sweaty series with the Rangers in Arlington over the weekend, it's hard to imagine what would have to happen for them to fall short of that goal.
The A's not only survived a challenging road trip; they dominated during their trip through Texas, taking three of four over the Astros in Houston before outscoring the Rangers, 28-16, in a three-game sweep to mark their final visit to Globe Life Park, which closes at the end of the season.
The A's schedule is, shall we say, favorable the rest of the way. They host the Royals and the Rangers before ending the season with two in Anaheim, where the Angels are playing without Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, and four in Seattle, where the Mariners are on pace for 57 wins on the year.
It's still a three-team race for the AL Wild Card spots, but it’s hard to imagine the A’s not in the mix when the pool gets whittled down to two.
On to the rankings…
Biggest jump: The Brewers and Rays each jumped three spots; the Rays from No. 9 to No. 6, and the Brewers from No. 15 to No. 12. Milwaukee has a herculean task ahead as it attempts to nab a postseason berth without reigning National League MVP Award winner Christian Yelich. The Brewers are 9-2 in their past 11 games, a run that began with winning three of four in a crucial series with the Cubs and concluded with a series win over their other division rival, the Cardinals.
Biggest drop: The D-backs dropped four, from No. 16 to No. 12. It's been a rough go for the D-backs, who've lost seven of 10 and strung together six losses in a row during that stretch. This obviously jeopardized their hopes to sneak into the postseason, given how many teams are competing for those two NL Wild Card spots.
Power Rankings Top 5:
1) Yankees (2 last week)
The Yankees and Astros are going to spend the final two weeks fighting for the coveted home-field advantage in the American League playoffs, and it's likely they'll also take turns occupying the top spot in the Power Rankings down the stretch, too. The Yankees, who lost two of three over the weekend in Toronto, will welcome back two impact players this week. Luis Severino is scheduled to make his 2019 debut on Tuesday vs. the Angels, and Giancarlo Stanton, who has missed most of the season, could be activated from the IL during the upcoming homestand.
2) Astros (1)
Houston recovered from a series loss to the A's, who took three of four at Minute Maid Park, to sweep the Royals in Kansas City. The American League West clincher is looming for the Astros, who are now in position to win the division in front of Houston fans at some point during the upcoming five-game homestand. It'll likely happen this weekend while they're playing the Angels.
3) Dodgers (3)
Despite already clinching the NL West, the Dodgers will have to keep their foot on the gas pedal in order to maintain their lead in the race for postseason home-field advantage. They have a decent lead over the Braves for the best record in the National League, but Los Angeles is right in line with the Astros and Yankees overall. Potentially hosting four games instead of three in the World Series looms large.
4) Braves (4)
The Braves have already clinched a playoff spot, and it should be only a couple more days until they are officially the NL East champs.
Ronald Acuna Jr., who leads the Braves with 39 homers, is threatening to become the second-youngest player ever to hit 40 homers in a single season. At 21 years and 271 days, he's behind only Mel Ott, who reached the milestone at 20 years, 203 days.
5) Twins (5)
The Twins swept a doubleheader Saturday to win a crucial series over the Indians, increasing their lead in the AL Central to 4 1/2 games while lowering their magic number to nine. Part of the Twins' winning formula this season has involved a group of talented, but mostly unheralded, relievers -- Taylor Rogers, Sergio Romo, Tyler Duffey, Trevor May and Zack Littell, who combined to post a 1.49 ERA in 84 2/3 innings since Romo debuted with the Twins back on July 30.
The rest of the Top 20:
- Rays (9 last week)
- A’s (7)
- Cardinals (8)
- Nationals (6)
- Indians (11)
- Cubs (10)
- Brewers (15)
- Phillies (13)
- Mets (16)
- Red Sox (14)
- D-backs (12)
- Reds (17)
- Giants (18)
- Rangers (20)
- Padres (19)