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MLB Standings Update: Tribe Heads West, Tigers Are Home As Indians Try To Hold AL Central Top-Spot

After dropping two out of three to the Colorado Rockies, the Indians embark this weekend on a three-city, nine-game road trip through the National League -- where there is no designated hitter, and thus where a sputtering offense will face the challenge of producing with one less bat in the lineup (yes, pitchers will hit...allegedly).

As we head into the last week of July, here is the latest look at the standings in the Majors, with emphasis on the American League Central.

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The Cleveland Indians (40-33) continue to hold on to first place in the Central, but are only a game ahead of the Detroit Tigers (40-35). While the Tigers will be home this weekend to take on the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Indians will be in San Francisco to face the defending World Champs.

The Chicago White Sox (37-39, 4.5 games behind) are quietly getting closer and closer to the top of the Central, and will be entertaining the Washington Nationals this weekend, while the Minnesota Twins (32-41, 8 games behind) were cooled off in their last two games but have still won 15 of their last 19 as they prepare to play their cross-border rivals when they face the Milwaukee Brewers.

Bringing up the rear in the Central are the Kansas City Royals (31-44, 10 games behind), who have lost five straight and are tumbling fast. Hard to believe it wasn't all that long ago that the Royals were neck-and-neck with the Tribe.

The American League East is tight at the top as well, with the Boston Red Sox (44-30) only a half-game ahead of the New York Yankees (43-30). The Tampa Bay Rays (41-34, 3.5 games behind) are hanging tough, but the Toronto Blue Jays (36-39, 8.5 games behind) and the Baltimore Orioles (33-39, 10 games behind) are still in danger of falling out of the AL East-leaders' zip code.

In the American League West, the Texas Rangers (40-36) have opened up a little breathing room over the Seattle Mariners (37-38, 2.5 games behind) and the Los Angeles Angels (37-39, 3 games behind), with the Oakland Athletics (34-42, 6 games behind) still in contention in what is -- at present -- the weakest division, record-wise, in the big leagues.

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In the National League East, the Philadelphia Phillies (47-29) enter the weekend with the best record in the Majors. The Atlanta Braves (43-33, 4 games behind) are by no means out of the divisional race, plus the Braves at present have the Wild Card lead by 1.5 games in the NL.

Third place in the NL East belongs to the Washington Nationals (38-37, 8.5 games behind), who are above .500 this late in the season for the first time since 2005, but have just lost manager Jim Riggleman to resignation. Behind the Nationals are the New York Mets (37-38, 9.5 games behind) and the Florida Marlins (33-42, 13.5 games behind).

The National League Central is tied at the top with the Milwaukee Brewers and the St.Louis Cardinals both coming in at 41-35. Not far behind are the Cincinnati Reds (39-37, 2 games behind) and the Pittsburgh Pirates (37-37, 3 games behind). After that there is a chasm-like drop-off to the Chicago Cubs (30-44, 10 games behind) and the Houston Astros (28-48, 13 games behind).

The NL West leaders are the Arizona Diamondbacks (42-34) -- Cleveland's opponent at the beginning of next week. But first the Indians will face the San Francisco Giants (41-34, .5 games behind).

Talk about a tough start to a road trip.

In third place in the NL West are the Colorado Rockies (37-37, 4 games behind), while the Los Angeles Dodgers (34-42, 8 games behind) and the San Diego Padres (32-44, 10 games behind), round out the National League standings.

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Be sure to check back on Monday for the next update, as all 30 teams in the Majors approach the halfway point of their schedules and the games begin to "matter" (not that they all don't) more and more.

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.