They need help from teams they've grown accustomed to spending six months battling, notably the Yankees and Rangers. To claim one of the two American League Wild Card invitations to the big dance, the Angels need New York, Texas and Boston, among others, to take down the A's and Orioles -- or A's and Yankees, depending on which AL East club emerges as the division champion.
The amazing A's, suddenly in a spin with losses in five of their past six games, have a three-game advantage over the Angels for the second Wild Card spot heading into Saturday night's Angels-White Sox game. Riding high all year, the A's are being challenged now.
The Orioles have the first Wild Card, trailing the Yankees by one in the AL East after both won extra-innings thrillers on Saturday.
"The biggest thing is, you need to win games and get other teams to beat up the teams in front of you," Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick said. "We'll take it any way we can get it.
"Texas is going to play Oakland seven times while we're playing Seattle. It is kind of strange to be pulling for the Rangers when we have to play them all the time, but it's the way it works out.
"When we were in Kansas City, I was talking to Alex Gordon and he said, `We got Detroit and Chicago.' Kansas City could ruin it for the White Sox or the Tigers. The Royals are a dangerous team. They've got a lot of guys who can hit."
Angels manager Mike Scioscia spends the season's first five months steadfastly ignoring the scoreboard and standings. In September, especially now with the Rangers on course for a third consecutive AL West title, he has no choice. He has to pay attention to what's going on elsewhere.
"What's awkward is when it gets out of your control," Scioscia said. "No matter who it is, you're pulling for a team to lose. Not having your own destiny in your hands -- it was awkward last year coming down to the end trying to make it. Here we are again. It's a weird feeling."
The Rangers will have incentive in those seven remaining games against the A's. Texas has an edge on the Yankees and Orioles in the race for best record in the AL, guaranteeing home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The National League has home advantage in the World Series courtesy of its All-Star Game victory.