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Yankees/Orioles race is headliner as final series of regular season opens tonight

We're at 159 games down and three to go in MLB's regular season, with shockingly little decided. Most folks in these parts will be paying attention to the Yankees' series in the Bronx with Boston, as the Yanks are tied with upstart Baltimore (which opens a series tonight at Tampa Bay).

Incredibly enough, 14 teams are still mathematically in it with three games to go (although the Rays, White Sox, Angels and Dodgers are all holding on by a thread that could snap tonight). That's pretty much what Bud Selig & Co. had in mind when they added this second wild-card. The only divisions clinched are the NL Central (Reds) and NL West (Giants).

Here's a look at how things stand:

AL East: The Yankees and Orioles are both 92-67 and clinched playoff spots last night when the Angels lost the second game of their doubleheader in Texas. If they finish tied, they stage a tiebreaker game Thursday in Camden Yards. But the Yankees have a huge edge against playing-out-the-string Boston, which is 1-9 in its last 10 and lost its 90th of the season yesterday for the first time since 1966. Baltimore is at Tampa Bay.

Mark Teixeira returns to the lineup tonight for the Yankees, batting fifth. CC Sabathia is on the mound. 

AL Central: The White Sox have collapsed away a three-game lead, going 2-9 in their last 11 and allowing the Tigers to forge a magic number of one. Chicago is in Cleveland tonight while the Tigers are in Kansas City. On the Triple Crown watch, Detroit's Miguel Cabrera has a three-point lead in the batting race over Joe Mauer, has a nine-point lead in the RBI race and is tied with Texas' Josh Hamilton for the home run lead.

AL West:  The Rangers (93-66) currently have the AL's best record and could finish with that -- or slip to a wild-card. They play the last three in Oakland (91-68), with the A's needing a sweep to take the division. One Texas win ends it. 

AL wild-cards:  It's going to be the AL East loser against the AL West loser, unless the Rays pull a miracle. Despite going 9-1 in their last 10, the Rays' tragic number is down to one.

NL East: The Nationals' magic number is one to wrap up an improbable division title. They host the Phillies while the Braves, who are three back, play in Pittsburgh. Washington is 96-63, tied with Cincinnati for the best record. 

NL wild-cards: It's going to be Atlanta hosting St. Louis, unless the Cardinals crumble against the Reds and the Dodgers go wild against the Giants. The Cardinals have a two-game lead.

---Mike Harrington
Twitter: @BNHarrington 

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About Inside Pitch

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has covered the Buffalo Bisons since 1992 and Major League Baseball since 1995. A member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, Harrington has reported on more than 30 MLB postseason series — including every game of the World Series in this century — and all three of the Bisons' championship runs in their modern era. He is a connoisseur of the famous Stadium Mustard at Cleveland's Progressive Field.

@BNHarrington | mharrington@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has covered the Bisons for The Buffalo News since 2002. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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