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MLB: 2 weeks left, playoff races sizzle

Published September 16, 2013 11:26 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

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 2½ behind, the Yankees trail by three and Kansas City is within 3½ 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 4½ 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.