The American League wild card standings show that the Tampa Bay Rays are solidly in the mix to return to the post-season.
The Rays, however, have higher aspirations. Tampa Bay has made it very clear that it wants to win the American League East. The Rays' 4-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Saturday night was the latest example of why they believe that making up six games and catching the New York Yankees is possible.
Behind another strong pitching performance from David Price, a pair of home runs from B.J. Upton, and a homer from Matt Joyce, the Rays stretched their winning streak to five and won for the 10th time in 13 games.
It is no surprise that the Rays are making a surge because they are a combined 78-43 in August since 2008.
"We want to get into October, first and foremost, but we want to hang another banner," said Price, who moved into a share of the major league lead in victories with Jered Weaver of the Los Angeles Angels and R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets. "We're playing our best baseball right now that we have all season. We've put ourselves in position."
Rays manager Joe Maddon understands what this winning streak and two weeks of good baseball can mean.
"When you win five in a row, then you show up and you feel like you're going to win," Maddon said. "That's, obviously, a good thing and that does turn into winning more often. It just does.
"This is not about just making the playoffs and this is not about just being a wild card team. This is about winning our division."
Having Price (15-4) continue a summer of strong starts certainly helps in that quest.
Price held the Twins to two runs and seven hits in seven innings. He has worked at least seven innings in 10 consecutive starts and hasn't lost since June 13. He is 7-0 with a 2.10 earned-run average in that span.
"He wasn't the best he can be. You get kind of spoiled watching him as often as we do," Maddon said. "But he was good."
Can the Rays catch the Yankees? They believe it is worth a try.
"There's too much baseball to be played to give up on winning our division," Upton said. "We all saw what happened last year. A lot can happen in the next two months."
ARLINGTON, Tex. — Rookie Mike Olt's pinch-hit RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning scored Nelson Cruz with the winning run for the Rangers.
Olt drove a 2-2 pitch from Detroit relief pitcher Phil Coke past diving third baseman Miguel Cabrera and into left field. Cruz easily beat the throw home.
Mike Adams (2-3) escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the top of the ninth to earn the victory.
Cruz and Michael Young each drew four-pitch walks from Brayan Villarreal (3-3) in the bottom half. Coke relieved and got two outs before Olt delivered the winning hit.
CLEVELAND — Brent Lillibridge homered, drove in two runs and scored on a squeeze bunt to back Zack McAllister's strong pitching as the Indians beat visiting Boston.
Lillibridge, acquired on July 24 from Boston, tied a career high with three hits. He hit his first homer in nearly a year and had an RBI single off Franklin Morales (3-2).
McAllister (5-4) allowed three hits, including a two-run double by Adrian Gonzalez, in a career-high eight innings.
Chris Perez pitched the ninth for his 31st save in 35 chances for Cleveland, 3-1 since an 11-game losing streak.
CHICAGO — Jonny Gomes homered to tie the game, and Brandon Inge hit a go-ahead single as Oakland scored twice in the eighth inning and beat the White Sox.
Oakland had a five-run third and led 5-2, but the White Sox rallied and took a 7-6 lead in the seventh on A.J. Pierzynski's RBI single off Ryan Cook (5-2).
After Gomes homered off Matt Thornton (4-8), Yoenis Cespedes and Chris Carter singled before Inge greeted Brett Myers with the go-ahead single into the right field corner. Gomes added an RBI single in the ninth to put the A's up by two runs.
Grant Balfour pitched the ninth for his eighth save in 10 chances, his first since May 5.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Hisashi Iwakuma took a four-hitter into the eighth inning, John Jason homered and Seattle ended a five-game skid with a win over the hometown Los Angeles Angels.
Angels rookie phenom Mike Trout robbed Miguel Olivo of a two-run homer in the eighth inning, timing his leap perfectly at the fence in straightaway centre field and throwing to first base to double off Eric Thames. But all it did was prevent the Mariners from adding on to their 7-1 lead.
Iwakuma (3-3) allowed three runs and six hits in seven-plus innings and struck out four in his seventh major league start.
The right-hander, staked to a 7-0 lead one night after teammate Felix Hernandez squandered a 5-0 cushion in Seattle's 6-5 loss, gave up his only runs on Vernon Wells' RBI single in the fifth and a two-run homer by Wells in the eighth on his 86th and final pitch.
BALTIMORE — Alex Gordon hit two of Kansas City's four home runs, Luis Mendoza took a shutout into the seventh inning and the Royals beat the Baltimore Orioles 7-3 Saturday night after the start of the game was delayed by rain for more than three hours.
Salvador Perez and Billy Butler also connected for the Royals, who have 14 homers in their last seven games. Gordon has nine home runs this season, three in this four-game series that concludes Sunday afternoon.
The game started at 10:14 p.m. and spilled into Sunday morning, finally ending at 1:13 a.m.
Mendoza (6-8) gave up three runs and seven hits over six-plus innings in his first appearance against the Orioles since 2008. Two of his 12 career wins have come against Baltimore.
Chris Tillman (5-2) allowed six runs and six hits, including three homers, in 5 2-3 innings.