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Previewing the week for Wild Card contenders - September 12-18

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Time for the Royals to make a move.

MLB: New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals are still in it, although things look a bit bleak with only three weeks left in the season and the Royals missing Lorenzo Cain for this week of action. However, they face a week full of opponents with losing record, so if they’re going to make a move, this would be the week to do it.

The Boston Red Sox have surged into first place with a two game lead, leaving the Blue Jays and Orioles in the Wild Card race, although things can change greatly this week with the Eastern Division squaring off against each other. Let’s take a look at the current Wild Card contenders.

Baltimore Orioles (78-64, tied for the first Wild Card)

The Orioles could find themselves in first place by the end of the week, or they could find themselves looking up at a playoff spot if things go poorly, that’s how bunched up things are with a few weeks remaining. Baltimore goes to Fenway Park starting tonight, with the Red Sox holding a decided advantage in pitching matchups. Wade Miley squares off against David Price tonight, with Dylan Bundy against Drew Pomeranz tomorrow and Kevin Gausman against 20-game winner Rick Porcello on Wednesday.

The Orioles then have a four-game series at home against the Rays, who they put up 24 runs in three games against last week. Baltimore is 11-4 against Tampa Bay this year, and is undefeated against them at home. Ubaldo Jimenez, Chris Tillman, Miley, and Bundy face off against Blake Snell, Chris Archer, Matt Andriese, and Jake Odorizzi. Tillman pitched well over six innings in his return to the rotation after a stint on the disabled list with shoulder bursitis.

Toronto Blue Jays (78-64, tied for the first Wild Card)

The Blue Jays have dropped seven of their last ten to fall out of first place, but a three-game series against the Rays starting tonight could help them regain their footing. Francisco Liriano has a 4.38 ERA in six games since joining the Blue Jays, and he squares off against Jake Odorizzi tonight. Marcus Stroman will face Drew Smyly tomorrow with Marco Estrada against Alex Cobb in the finale.

The Blue Jays then head to the West Coast to face the last place Angels for a four-game set. J.A. Happ, Aaron Sanchez, Francisco Liriano, and Marcus Stroman face off against Tyler Skaggs, Daniel Wright, Jered Weaver, and Ricky Nolasco.

Detroit Tigers (76-66, 2 games back)

The Tigers get seven of their next ten games against the awful Twins, a team they have beaten 10 times in 12 tries. They begin a four-game series tonight with Daniel Norris facing Ervin Santana. Matt Boyd will face Kyle Gibson tomorrow, with Anibal Sanchez against Tyler Duffey, and Michael Fulmer against Ricky Nolasco.

This weekend, the Tigers head to Cleveland, having lost 11 of 12 against the Indians this year. Detroit will skip Jordan Zimmermann’s turn in the rotation after a disastrous start on Saturday, but Justin Verlander can start on regular rest against Corey Kluber with Norris and Boyd facing Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer.

New York Yankees (76-66, 2 games back)

The Yankees have been hot, winning 13 of 18 games, but they face two tough first place teams this week getting the Dodgers at home before traveling to Boston. Rookies Bryan Mitchell and Jose DeLeon will face off at Yankee Stadium tonight with Dodger phenom prospect Julio Urias going against C.C. Sabathia tomorrow. Clayton Kershaw goes in the finale in his second start after missing over two months with a back injury, against right-hander Michael Pineda.

Then comes a big series at Fenway Park with nationally broadcast games on Saturday and Sunday. Masahiro Tanaka was brilliant his last time out and faces lefty Eduardo Roriguez in the opener on Thursday. Rookie Luis Cessa faces Clay Buchholz on Friday, with Bryan Mitchell against David Price on Saturday on FOX. C.C. Sabathia faces Drew Pomeranz on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball to close the series.

Houston Astros (75-68, 3.5 games back)

The Astros have dropped six of their last ten, all against first place clubs. They have three left against a first place club, the Rangers, and three against the Mariners before the schedule lets up considerably. Doug Fister faces Martin Perez in Houston tonight. Rookie David Paulino is a question mark tomorrow night after a rough Major League debut, but he is lined up to face A.J. Griffin. Joe Musgrove faces Yu Darvish in the finale.

The Astros then travel to Seattle to take on the Mariners, who they have beaten 8 of 13 times this year. Collin McHugh takes on Felix Hernandez on Friday, with Mike Fiers and Doug Fister taking on lefties James Paxton and Ariel Miranda in the remaining two games.

Seattle Mariners (75-68, 3.5 games back)

The Mariners are riding a five game winning streak, and face the 63-79 Angels this week. Ariel Miranda, who has a 4.28 ERA since being acquired from the Orioles at the deadline, faces Ricky Nolasco tonight. Taijuan Walker faces Alex Meyer tomorrow, with Hisashi Iwakuma against Tyler Skaggs in the finale.

Seattle hosts the Astros this weekend, with the loser of that series possibly in poor shape for the Wild Card race by next week.

Kansas City Royals (74-68, 4 games back)

The Royals get their next eight games against losing teams with the Athletics in town tonight. Oakland has lost 26 of their last 39 games and have traded away or released many veterans, including former Royals designated hitter Billy Butler. Dillon Gee faces former Missouri State pitcher Ross Detwiler tonight, with Danny Duffy against rookie Jharel Cotton tomorrow. Former Royals pitcher Sean Manaea goes against Yordano Ventura on Wednesday with Edinson Volquez facing rookie Daniel Mengden in the finale on Thursday.

This weekend, the White Sox come into town for a four-game set that includes a makeup game on Monday from a rain out on May 26. The Royals get Chris Sale again on Friday against Ian Kennedy, with Miguel Gonzalez facing Dillon Gee on Saturday. Danny Duffy faces Jose Quintana in what should be a terrific matchup on Sunday, with Yordano Ventura against Carlos Rodon on Monday afternoon.