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A look at the days ahead for the Wild Card contenders

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Hmmm, this is quite the predicament.
Hmmm, this is quite the predicament.
Tom Szczerbowski

The Blue Jays head into Baltimore today to take on the division leading Orioles, which will be a key series for Toronto if it wants to stay in the Wild Card race. Sitting at 77-71 on the season and four games back of the Royals for the second Wild Card, it's looking like the Blue Jays will have to win at the very least 12 of their last 14 games to have a chance to get their first playoff berth in 21 years. Of course they do not control their own destiny and they'll need a fair bit of help from the other Wild Card chasers to make the playoffs a reality.

The Oakland Athletics currently sit at 83-66 and are still holding on to the first Wild Card spot, albeit with a loosening grip. After a day off on Monday, Oakland welcomes the Texas Rangers to their city which is certainly a winnable three games for the former division-leading Athletics. The A's will send Jeff Samardzija, Scott Kazmir, and Jason Hammel to the hill against Texas and unless something crazy happens, it seems like they are out of the Blue Jays reach this late in the season.

The fading Royals possess the second Wild Card with their record of 81-67 and they have a three-game series at home against the White Sox. Unless Ned Yost manages to lose the team some more games, it seems like Kansas City has the inside track to win at least two games in this series. Tonight's pitching matchup features James Shields against John Danks while tomorrow sees Danny Duffy go up against Chris Bassitt, meaning that it wouldn't be a surprise for the Royals to take the first two games of the series. The Wednesday night game is a tasty affair with lefty Chris Sale opposing flamethrower Yordano Ventura, so that will certainly be fun to watch. The Blue Jays will have to eliminate the four-game gap between the Royals and themselves eventually, but the next few days look like a time where Toronto will just have to be content with keeping pace.

The Seattle Mariners are only one game back of the Royals for the second Wild Card and they face a nasty four-game series in Anaheim against the division-leading Angels this week. In fact, eleven of the Mariners' 14 remaining games come against either the Angels or Blue Jays so there isn't a lot of time for messing around if you're Seattle. A tough pitching matchup tonight sees Matt Shoemaker going up against Hisashi Iwakuma, while Tuesday features Colby Rasmus' brother Cory starting for the Angels while also trying to beat the team that Colby and the Blue Jays are chasing down. Thursday night has the best pitching matchup of the series with Felix Hernandez facing off against Jared Weaver with big Wild Card and AL home field advantage implications.

The Cleveland Indians, who are five games back of the Royals (and one back of the Blue Jays), get a soft four games in Houston before getting another three winnable games in Minnesota. Fortunately for the Blue Jays, Cleveland is behind them in the standings and shouldn't really matter in the scheme of things considering that Toronto has to essentially win out anyway. The New York Yankees are also one game behind the Blue Jays and go to Tampa Bay tonight for three games with the Rays. New York looks to be fading a bit and shouldn't exactly strike fear into any of the Wild Card leaders.