Twins fans might have groaned when Houston fattened up by trading with Detroit for ace pitcher Justin Verlander.

But the moved helped the Twins on Tuesday when he pitched eight shutout innings in Houston's 1-0 victory over the Angels. If Verlander stays on schedule, his next two starts will be against wild card contenders Seattle and, once again, Los Angeles. Take that as a positive. (Another positive for Minnesota: Former Twins pitcher Ricky Nolasco is still in the Angels' rotation with a 6-13 record and 5.19 ERA.)

Texas has a rough finishing schedule: The Rangers entered Wednesday three games behind the Twins for the second wild card spot. They have four games remaining against the contending Mariners, as well as three apiece against the Angels and Astros. If Texas makes it to the final weekend still in contention, the final four games are against Oakland.