MLB playoff leads come into focus

Fitz Robling, Staff Reporter

As the regular season enters mid-September, the MLB division races are in full gear, and everybody is looking for a way into the post season. The local Chicago White Sox trail the Minnesota Twins by six games as of Thursday, and have a crucial three game series with the Twins coming up this week. Here’s a look at the rest of the divisions:

AL East:
As of Thursday the Tampa Bay Rays trailed the New York Yankees by 2.5 games. These two teams are likely to both make the playoffs so, they are really only fighting for home field advantage. The Yankees and Rays play seven more times this year, which gives the red-hot Rays a real chance at obtaining home field advantage throughout the ALCS.

AL Central:
As of Thursday morning the Twins were six games ahead of the rival white sox.  With less than 20 games to play the Chicago White Sox chances of reaching October are dwindling.  Even with the addition of Manny Ramirez, it looks as if the White Sox don’t have enough to topple the mighty Twins.

AL West:
This is the only division were the race is over. The Rangers are 7.5 games ahead of the Oakland A’s. Even though they are a lock for the division winners, the Rangers’ top 2 players are injured.  Josh Hamilton has bruised ribs, and Cliff Lee has minor injuries which are keeping him from playing.  These two injuries to Hamilton and to Lee may be a blessing in disguise, because it forces the Rangers to rest their key players. The Rangers must hope that when the post season arrives their two top players are in tip top shape to make a run in the playoffs.

NL East:
In Bobby Cox’s last season as a manager, the Atlanta Braves looked like they were a lock for the payoffs, but due to a harsh losing streak at the end of August and a run in the beginning of September; the Phillies are now in first Place.  The Braves only trail the Phillies by one game as of Thursday morning.  The Phillies are trying to make it back to the World Series for the third year in a row. The Braves are hoping to make it to the playoffs for the first time since 2005, and in Bobby Cox last season as manager.

NL Central:
The surprise team of the year this year comes from the NL Central.  The Cincinnati Reds have shocked everybody by winning 79 games so far. The Reds have made it this far by strong starting pitching, and the bat of first baseman Joey Votto.  Votto, who was the player’s vote for the All Star Team, is in contention for the coveted Triple Crown. The only person stopping him is fellow first baseman Albert Pujols of the St. Cardinals.  Even though Pujols is in contention for the Triple Crown, the Cardinals still trail the Reds by six games.  With 23 games left and none against the Cardinals, it looks as if the Reds will be making the first appearance in the playoffs since 1995.

NL West:
This year like every other year the NL West is living up to its reputation as being wild.  While all the other divisions are two team races, the west is a three team race.  Going into late August the Padres had a commanding 6 game lead over the Giants, and a 10 game lead over the Colorado Rockies.  Then the Padres hit an unbelievable 10 game losing streak and as of Thursday, September 10, the Padres had a one game lead over the Giants, and a 3.5 game lead over the Rockies.