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MLB Standings Update: As Season Enters Last Weekend Of Interleague Play, It's 3-Team Race In The Central

The Indians and the Detroit Tigers continue to play hot potato with the lead in the AL Central, as during the past few weeks both teams have had the top spot, lost it, got it back, lost it, etc.

As things stand now, the Tigers are a half-game ahead of the Indians, but in the rear-view mirror and approaching fast are the Chicago White Sox, as a two-team race is morphing into a three-team battle.

And the Minnesota Twins, you just have a feeling, are not out of it by a long shot.

Here then is a look at the standings in the Majors, with a focus on the AL Central, and on who will be facing whom this weekend in the Tribe's little cluster of the baseball universe:

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The Detroit Tigers (44-38) are, as said, just a half-game ahead of the Indians (42-37). Detroit will be at home this weekend to face the Giants, while the Indians will be in Cincinnati for the Battle of Ohio, part two.

The White Sox (40-42, 4 games behind) will be "on the road" to take on the Cubs on the North Side this weekend.

Meanwhile, and rounding out the Central, the Minnesota Twins (34-45, 8.5 games behind) will be at home to take on Milwaukee, and the Kansas City Royals (33-48, 10.5 games behind) will be in Denver to take on the Rockies.

In the AL East, the New York Yankees (48-31) have the best record in the American league. In second place are the Boston Red Sox (46-34, 2.5 games behind), with the Tampa Bay Rays (45-36, 4 games behind) also in striking distance. Then there is a drop-off to the Toronto Blue Jays (40-42, 9.5 games behind) and the Baltimore Orioles (35-43, 12.5 games behind).

On a side note, I have to say that I am glad that the Indians do not have to face the annual juggernaut of the top three teams in the East that the Blue Jays and Orioles have to contend with.

The AL West is still led by the Texas Rangers (43-39), but the Los Angeles Angels (42-40, 1 game behind) are breathing down the Rangers' necks. The Seattle Mariners (39-42, 3.5 games behind) are next, with the fourth spot in the West going to the fading Oakland Athletics (36-46, 7 games behind).

The Red Sox are at current the leaders in the Wild Card race, with the Indians 3.5 games behind Boston. Translation: it would behoove the Tribe to win the Central, as the Wild Card will probably come from the East, Yes, it is too early to say for sure, but with the power of the top three teams in the East, that is the place where a sensible fan expects the fourth playoff contestant in the American League to come from.

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The leaders in the National League East are the Philadelphia Phillies (51-31), who also have the best record in the Major Leagues. The only team within shouting distance of the Phillies are the Atlanta Braves (47-35, 4 games behind), while the New York Mets (41-40), the Washington Nationals (40-41) and the Florida Marlins (36-45) can just about write off any chance at a divisional crown in 2011.

The NL Central is a much tighter division at the top, with the Milwaukee Brewers and the St.Louis Cardinals tied for the lead at 44-38. The surprising Pittsburgh Pirates (41-39) and the Cincinnati Reds (42-40) are both just two games back, and then there is a major chasm before we find the Chicago Cubs (34-48, 10 games back) and the Houston Astros (29-53, 15 games behind).

The National League West has become a two-team race at present with the San Francisco Giants (46-36) on top, followed by the Arizona Diamondbacks (44-38 and just 2 games behind). The Colorado Rockies (39-42) are by no means out of it, but it could be said that the San Diego Padres (37-45) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (36-46) are getting close to the point of non-contention.

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And there you have it, for another weekend. I will update again on Monday, when baseball gets back to strictly intraleague play -- for a week, at which point everyone will take a break for the All-Star game.

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