Only two weeks left to sort the baseball playoff picture, and the chase for October is sizzling. A quick look at how the races shake out:
THE WILD SIDE: It's a scramble for the two AL wild-card spots, with a half-dozen teams trying to claim them. Texas and Tampa Bay are tied at the top, but wobbling. Cleveland is a half-game back, Baltimore is 2 1/2 behind, the Yankees trail by three and Kansas City is within 3 1/2 games.
DANGER ZONE: Former Rays playoff star Matt Garza starts for Texas against Alex Cobb of Tampa Bay on Monday night in the opener of a four-game series at Tropicana Field. Someone's got to lose this week, meaning every chasing team gets a chance to close in.
JUST IN TIME: Pinch-hitter Justin Morneau's single sent Pittsburgh over the Cubs 3-2 Sunday, leaving the Pirates even with St. Louis for the NL Central lead. The former AL MVP drove in his first run since he was acquired in a trade with Minnesota on Aug. 31. ''It was perfect timing for the first RBI, that's for sure,'' Morneau said. ''I wish it would have happened a week-and-a-half ago, but I'm glad it happened when it did.''
WHAT'S THE FORECAST?: Wicked weather always seems to wreak havoc at the end of the season. Cleveland waited out a rain delay of nearly 4 1/2 hours in Chicago before beating the White Sox 7-1 Sunday night. Just watch - somewhere, a storm will sweep into another stadium at the most inopportune time.
INTERLEAGUE INTRIGUE: With an AL vs NL game most every day this year, an interleague matchup might be a major factor in the playoff races. Strange, right? On deck: The World Series champion San Francisco Giants visit Yankee Stadium this weekend.
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