With just five games left in the regular season, Major League Baseball's wild-card playoff race is heating up and the teams who will make the postseason are becoming more obvious
While the fact that Major League baseball has begun allowing two wildcards from each league into the playoffs this year has led to more teams being in contention, it still appears that barring an epic collapse from either the Orioles, the Athletics or the Cardinals it seems we now know who will be in the playoffs.
Baltimore is the Cinderella team of the playoff race. After winning handily Friday night the O's sit at 90 wins, already 20 better than 2011 and have guaranteed themselves a winning record for the first time in more than 15 years. The Orioles are also the top wildcard playoff team, one game ahead of the second wild card leader Oakland Athletics, three games ahead of the Los Angeles Angels and four up on division rival Tampa Bay. Baltimore isn't settling for a wild card birth though. The Orioles are just a game back of the New York Yankees for the AL East crown. The O's will finish the season with two more games against the cellar dwelling Boston Redsox and three games against a Tampa Bay Rays team hoping for yet another end-of-the season surge.
Oakland is a surprise playoff team as well, posting their first winning record since they won the AL West in 2006. The Athletics hold a two game lead over the division rival Angels and three over the Rays. Oakland also has designs on another division crown, but since they are trailing the Rangers by three games, they would need to basically win the rest of their games and get some help as well. Oakland finishes the season with two more against the Seattle Mariners and a season-ending three game series against those Texas Rangers.
In the National League, the Atlanta Braves have already clinched themselves a playoff spot thanks to a nine game lead over the third place Dodgers when it comes to the wild card chase. St. Louis is in prime position to do the same with a three game lead over Los Angeles. The Dodgers finish the year with two more against the Colorado Rockies and then a three game set against the newly crowned NL West champion San Francisco Giants. The Milwaukee Brewers are still technically in the hunt, being five out, with five to play, but they would need an awful lot of help. One more Brewer loss coinciding with a Cardinal win and the Brew Crew is eliminated.