While the Tampa Bay Rays have proven nearly unbeatable over the last week-plus, it could be too little, too late.
Time is also running out for the Chicago White Sox, who have picked the worst possible time for one of their worst stretches of the season.
Winners of nine of 10, the Rays try to keep their faint playoff hopes alive as they conclude a four-game set against the White Sox, who hope to avoid a 10th loss in 12 games Sunday.
Tampa Bay (87-71) extended its winning streak to a season-high eight in Thursday's series opener only to fall to 3-1 the next day. While the Rays bounced back Saturday with a 10-4 win, they still remain a long shot to make the playoffs.
The Rays sit one-half game behind third-place Los Angeles and three in back of Oakland for the second AL wild-card berth with four to play.
"We have to believe we're going to get the help while we take care of our own business. We're 1-0 on Saturday, let's go 1-0 on Sunday," said manager Joe Maddon, whose team could officially fall out of the wild-card race with a loss Sunday and an Athletics' victory over Seattle.
"I'm like the biggest scoreboard watcher, but at the end of the day I can't worry about that."
Chicago's ninth loss in 11 games coupled with Detroit's 6-4 win at Minnesota dropped the White Sox (83-75) two games behind the Tigers for the Central lead.
"We have to win every game and hope Detroit loses a couple," Alex Rios said. "That's what has to happen."
A matchup against David Price (19-5, 2.56 ERA) isn't likely to help Chicago's cause. The Cy Young candidate, 11-1 with a 2.24 ERA over his last 17 starts, owns baseball's lowest ERA and is trying to become the first 20-game winner in franchise history.
Price was at the top of his game Tuesday, allowing seven hits and striking out a season-high 13 in his fourth career complete game, a 5-2 win at Boston.
"He's just as good as anyone," Red Sox outfielder Cody Ross told the Rays' official website. "He got himself in a little trouble and then all of a sudden, he was like, 'That's enough,' and he really turned it on and pitched lights-out. That's what the elite of the elite do."
Price had posted a 4.88 ERA in losing each of his first four starts against the White Sox before striking out nine over eight innings of four-hit ball during a 5-0 victory April 18, 2011.
The left-hander will need to be wary of Rios, who's gone 7 for 14 with two homers in their matchups. Paul Konerko, 7 for 15 with a homer, has also fared well, though Gordon Beckham is 1 for 15.
It's unknown if Price will have to face Alejandro De Aza, who was scratched from Saturday's lineup with flu-like symptoms.
The White Sox, meanwhile, turn to Jose Quintana (6-5, 3.60) in hopes of bouncing back. The 23-year-old rookie, who threw four pitches over two-thirds of an inning during a rare relief appearance in Tuesday's 4-3 loss to Cleveland, is 1-3 with a 7.48 ERA over his last five starts.
He had a hard time finding the strike zone during his last start Sept. 22, allowing four runs - one earned - and a career-high five walks over five innings of a 4-2 road loss to the Angels.
In his only matchup versus Tampa Bay, Quintana gave up one run and one hit over 3 2-3 innings before he was ejected for throwing a pitch behind Ben Zobrist at knee level during a 4-3 road win May 30.
After this game, Tampa Bay hosts Baltimore in its final series while Chicago visits Cleveland.
- Tampa Bay Rays
- Tampa Bay
- Chicago White Sox
- the Rays
- David Price