Who wants to win the second wild card in the American League? Just a week ago, it looked like the Orioles were going to go on a hot streak and pull away. Nope. The Twins were dead and now they're hot. The Angels are 8-15 in August ... and just a half-game behind the Rangers, who have come from nowhere to take the lead. But they blew a ninth-inning lead to the Blue Jays on Tuesday. Who wants it? I have no idea. Let's take a look at the five teams that are separated by 2½ games and try to make sense of this thing.
Texas Rangers (64-60)
Why they're legit: They were awful in April when they went 7-14, but that club isn't this club. ... Since May 1, the Rangers have the third-best record in the AL. ... The April rotation included Ross Detwiler, Wandy Rodriguez and even Anthony Ranaudo for a start. ... Now it includes Cole Hamels, Martin Perez and Derek Holland. ... Shin-Soo Choo hit .096 in April but is back to being an on-base machine in the second half with a .314/.445/.539 line. ... Rougned Odor? Let's talk Rougned Odor. He's third among MLB second basemen in wOBA (minimum 300 plate appearances) and first since he was recalled from the minors on June 15. ... Prince Fielder is 10th in the majors in OBP.
Why they're not legit: Umm, welcome to the American League, Mr. Hamels. He's 1-1 with a 4.73 ERA in four starts. ... Among qualified starters, Yovani Gallardo ranks 81st of 88 pitchers in strikeout rate. He has a 3.25 ERA but a 3.91 FIP, so he could be due for regression. ... Adrian Beltre (.267/.308/.413) isn't the force of recent seasons, on offense or defense. ... Shawn Tolleson has been great but is his second blown save on Tuesday a sign of things to come? ... Hello, Josh Hamilton. ... With Fielder, Choo, Odor and Mitch Moreland -- the team's four top hitters -- all lefty hitters, Rangers are vulnerable to left-handed pitching.
Los Angeles Angels (64-61)
Why they're legit: Mike Trout, my friends. ... Albert Pujols hammered his 34th home run on Tuesday. That's 67 home runs from the middle of the lineup. ... Garrett Richards still has the great stuff and velocity that made him a Cy Young contender last season until he injured his knee and Hector Santiago still has an ERA under 3.00. ... The team acquired veteran outfielders David Murphy, Shane Victorino and David DeJesus at the trade deadline to bring in some much needed depth and versatility. ... Jered Weaver is back after two months on the DL, and he has won a lot of big games in his career. ... Huston Street and Joe Smith are a reliable eighth-ninth combo in the pen. ... They were here last year and people like to say that experience means something.
Why they're not legit: Umm, since injuring his wrist on a diving play on July 26, Trout is hitting .225 with two home runs in 89 at-bats. Slump? Playing through an injury? ... Sure, Pujols is hitting home runs, but he's not doing a whole lot else with a mediocre .311 OBP, .214 average and .388 slugging mark with runners in scoring position. ... Erick Aybar has two home runs. Erick Aybar hit fifth on Tuesday. ... Richards has a 5.50 ERA over his past six starts and can't quite find that dominant groove of 2015. ... Do you trust Weaver and his fastball that topped out at 83.3 mph on Tuesday?
Minnesota Twins (64-61)
Why they're legit: After pounding the Rays 11-7 on Tuesday, they've righted the ship again with their fifth straight win. ... Miguel Sano is a scary man: .287/.397/.592, with his 12th home run already -- in 45 games. He's a rookie but he has given the Twins a legit cleanup hitter. ... Brian Dozier has 26 home runs, on pace again to score 100-plus runs. ... They're 52-1 when leading after eight with reliable closer Glen Perkins. ... Maybe Byron Buxton's time is now. ... Nobody seems to think they can win, which means they'll probably win. ... OK, so they don't strike guys out, but they don't walk anybody, with the fewest free passes issued in the league.
Why they're not legit: They were 20-7 in May, but they're under .500 in every other month. ... The advanced metrics say the Twins have had a lot of good luck in their sequencing and have exceeded their projected win total by 10 due to that "luck" (some prefer to call it clutch). ... We get it: Torii Hunter, great leader and all, but he's hitting .172 since July 1 with four times as many whiffs as walks. Why is he still in the lineup nearly every day? ... The rotation has the second-lowest strikeout rate in the majors. Strikeouts are good. ... Ervin Santana was supposed to provide a lift but he has been terrible, with a 5.53 ERA in 11 starts.
Baltimore Orioles (62-63)
Why they're legit: There are only 13 hitters in the AL with a slugging percentage over .500 and the Orioles have three of them in Chris Davis, Manny Machado and Adam Jones. Even Jonathan Schoop is slugging .500 in his 52 games. ... Davis is slugging .657 since the All-Star break, fourth best in the AL, and he can carry an offense when he's hot. ... Few managers know how to manipulate a roster like Buck Showalter. ... As always, they're a solid defensive team. ... Not worried about Zach Britton blowing two saves in August. He's a beast with that 96-mph sinker. ... Darren O'Day is one of the best setup guys in the league. ... Playoffs in 2012, 85 wins in 2013, playoffs in 2014, and yet a lot of people still seem skeptical. They had a great stretch run last year, going 23-11 their final 34 games.
Why they're not legit: Who's the ace? Who's the No. 2? Will Ubaldo Jimenez ever have a consistent run of five good starts in a row? ... Davis was hot, but now he's slowing down again, without a home run his past 10 games. ... They're 13th in the AL in walks, so sometimes they rely too much on home runs to score. ... Wei-Yin Chen has a 3.13 ERA but a 4.36 FIP. Maybe he keeps outpitching that FIP, maybe he doesn't. ... I'm not buying Kevin Gausman just yet. ... Last year was last year. This year, no consistency. After climbing five games above .500 last week, now they've lost six in a row to give away their wild-card lead.
Tampa Bay Rays (62-63)
Why they're legit: Everybody has let them hang around all season, so all it will take is one little hot streak and the Rays could sneak in. ... They're 2-10 in extra-inning games, which means they're due for some wins in extra-inning games. ... Chris Archer, my friends. ... After that, Jake Odorizzi, Nate Karns and Erasmo Ramirez give the Rays an underrated rotation that ranks second in the AL in ERA. ... Desmond Jennings recently returned after being out since late April, and he could provide a little offense. ... Kevin Kiermaier helps that rotation with Gold Glove defense in center field. He catches everything out there. ... Check out Logan Forsythe's numbers (in case you're too lazy: .278/.358/.432). ... With Kevin Cash, they haven't missed Joe Maddon. ...
Why they're not legit: They've hung around but it's difficult to find reasons to think they can go on a hot streak. Their longest winning streak has been five games, back in April. ... They're 2-10 in extra innings for good reason: The bullpen, a strength early on, has struggled lately (closer Brad Boxberger has nine losses). Could be some fatigue as the pen has thrown the most innings in the AL. ... Umm, they're last in the league in runs and Evan Longoria is hardly the threat he once was. ... Matt Moore's return from Tommy John surgery was a disaster, sadly. ... Jake McGee is now out 6-8 weeks with a torn meniscus in his knee. ... They miss Joe Maddon.