The dream of a playoff berth may be over for the majority of major-league teams, but that hasn’t prevented some from playing like they belong in the postseason.
Here are four teams that haven’t quit despite having their playoff hopes dashed (results prior to Saturday's games):
Philadelphia Phillies (62-73, -15.37 units)
Despite being out of the playoff chase for several weeks, the resurgent Phillies have ripped off nine wins in their last 13 games. Philadelphia has fared especially well as a favorite, winning seven straight. Luck has played a major role in the Phillies’ recent success, as they’ve won seven consecutive one-run games - including five in a six-game span earlier in the month. And with 14 of their final 27 games against teams with losing records, the Phillies have an outside shot at passing Washington for second place in the National League East.
Chicago White Sox (56-77, -18.94 units)
Chicago’s recent surge may be the unlikeliest of all, at least from an odds standpoint. The White Sox are a distant fifth in the NL Central but have caught fire with 10 wins in their last 13 games, including a mind-boggling seven straight as an underdog - five at +150 or higher. Pitching has been the catalyst, with Chicago ranked fifth in the majors in ERA this month. A rejuvenated Adam Dunn has helped, as well. The towering slugger is batting .275 in August, putting him on pace to record his third straight month above .270.
Washington Nationals (68-66, -12.01 units)
No team is catching Atlanta in the NL East, but the Nationals have been providing fans with plenty of hope for 2014. Washington comes into Saturday’s action having won eight of its last 10, with all eight victories coming as the favorite. After languishing in the bottom half of the NL in runs for most of the season, the Washington bats have come alive with 59 runs over the last 10 games. And with 15 straight games against teams behind them in the East, a sustained run is quite possible.
Kansas City Royals (69-65), +1.31 units)
The Royals still have a slim chance of making the AL playoffs thanks to a five-game winning streak during which they’ve allowed just eight runs. Consecutive quality starts from Jeremy Guthrie, James Shields and Danny Duffy have helped erase the sour memory of a seven-game skid earlier in the month. Kansas City has a favorable immediate schedule with series against the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners on the horizon. At the very least, an above .500 finish looks promising.