The final month of the season is here, and the only significant change in the American League Wild Card situation is that there are fewer games for the eight contenders to play as they try to pull away from the pack.
The Yankees are up three games for the first Wild Card berth, and the Twins had the slimmest lead possible for the second spot, ahead of the Angels by just a half-game. Four more teams that are either slightly above .500 or right at the break-even mark are within 2 1/2 games of the second spot -- the Orioles (1 1/2 games back), the Rangers (two games back), the Mariners (2 1/2 games back) and the Royals (2 1/2 games back).
In the National League, the D-backs and Rockies are still 1-2 in the Wild Card race, but that landscape looks a lot different than it did a few weeks ago. Arizona has won 11 games in a row and is 6 1/2 games ahead of Colorado. Meanwhile, the Rockies are struggling, having lost six of 10, and they are just 1 1/2 games in front of the Brewers, who also have their eye on the NL Central title.
Biggest jump: The Rangers jumped three spots, from No. 17 to No. 14, having won 16 of their past 25 games. If they are going to nab one of the two AL Wild Card spots, they'll have to do it without Adrian Beltre, who's out for the month with a hamstring strain. Fortunately for Texas, other hitters have been carrying their weight, including Elvis Andrus, who has 17 hits in 46 at-bats with 11 RBIs and nine runs scored in his past 10 games.
Biggest drop: The Marlins dropped seven spots from No. 12 to No. 19, after losing seven of their past eight games. There seemed to be so much promise for Miami after it re-emerged into NL Wild Card contention a couple of weeks ago, but it's starting to look like most of the focus surrounding this team down the stretch will be directed toward Giancarlo Stanton, who hit his 53rd homer on Monday.
Power Rankings Top 5
1. Dodgers (1)
The Dodgers said they didn't care about surpassing the 2001 Mariners all-time wins record of 116, which is a good thing, because due to their recent struggles, it's not going to happen. Los Angeles is in no danger of relinquishing the NL West lead nor the top seed as the team with the best record in the National League, but it's worth noting that the Dodgers have looked a little more human lately, having dropped consecutive series to the Brewers, D-Backs and Padres.
2. Indians (3)
The Indians won their 12th straight game on Monday, mathematically eliminating the White Sox from AL Central contention while extending the longest winning streak in the Majors this season. The Tribe is two wins shy of matching its franchise-best 14-game win streak, established last June. They have outscored opponents 84-21 during this stretch. Starting pitchers have earned decisions in 11 of the 12 wins and have an ERA under 1.45 during that span.
3. Astros (4)
Houston is 4-0 since Justin Verlander accepted a trade to the Astros from Detroit, and he hasn't even pitched yet. The Astros bounced back from losing two of three to the Rangers during their post-Harvey series in St. Petersburg to sweep the reeling Mets during their first series back home. After beating the Mariners in Seattle on Monday, the Astros are starting to wonder if they can have the division title close to being wrapped up before the road trip is over. It's possible, given they play nine more times, including a doubleheader Saturday in Oakland, before they return home.
4. Nationals (2)
As the only team with a winning record in the NL East, the Nationals should have the division title clinched sooner than later. Their magic number is 10 after beating the Marlins on Monday, and their schedule is favorable if they want to clinch at home. After two more games in Miami, the Nats will host the Phillies for four games and the Braves for three games.
5. Cubs (6)
Despite an ugly 12-0 loss to the Pirates on Monday, the Cubs have been on a decent run, taking six of seven games on their homestand last week. That included a three-game sweep of the Pirates and winning three of four games over the Braves. The NL Central race continues to be an interesting one, especially since the Brewers seem to match the Cubs win-for-win most weeks. The rest of the way should be fun -- this weekend, the Cubs host the Brewers at Wrigley, and two weeks later, the teams will meet for a final time in Milwaukee. That'll be a four-game set starting Sept. 21.