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Playoff races come down to wire08/24/2007 3:02 PM ET
By Benjamin HIll / Special to MLB.com
Here's a closer look at what the playoff picture looks like with roughly a week left in the regular season.
Division leaders: Scranton/WB (North), Durham (South), Toledo (West)
Get ready to break out the bubbly in Toledo, as the Mud Hens have increased their West Division lead to 10 games over second-place Indianapolis. There isn't much intrigue in the North either, as Scranton/Wilkes-Barre has increased its lead to 6 ½ games over both Buffalo and Rochester. The South is a whole 'nother story, however, as Durham has overtaken last week's front-runner, the Richmond Braves, by a mere ½ game. The Braves are currently leading the Wild Card race, with Buffalo and Rochester three games back.
PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE
Division leaders: Nashville (American North), Albuquerque (American South), Salt Lake (Pacific North), Sacramento (Pacific South)
The American South is as topsy-turvy as ever. Albuquerque has won eight of its past nine and now possesses a one-game lead over Oklahoma. New Orleans, last week's division leader, is two games off of the pace and in third place. Meanwhile, Sacramento has seen its lead in the Pacific South reduced to four games over Tucson and six over Fresno. In the Pacific North, Salt Lake's lead over slumping Colorado Springs remains at 4 ½ games. Nashville has increased its lead over Iowa in the American North to 8 ½ games, and the Sounds' magic number to clinch stands at four.
Division leaders: Trenton (Northern), Erie (Southern)
While Trenton's magic number to clinch the Northern Division stands at just four games, there is still considerable intrigue within the division. New Hampshire has pulled even with slumping Portland in the race for the second-place Wild Card spot, and the two teams are currently in the midst of a four-game series. Meanwhile, the surging Erie SeaWolves have surpassed the Akron Aeros in the Southern Division and currently possess a 2 ½ game lead. The Aeros are still in line for a postseason berth, however, as their lead over Bowie in the race for the division Wild Card stands at 3 ½ games.
First-half winners: Springfield (North), Frisco (South)
Exploring the myriad postseason possibilities that exist in the Texas League requires more space than this column allows. Briefly: Arkansas has pulled even with Springfield in the North Division, where all four teams are within four games of one another. If Springfield repeats, then the second playoff spot goes to the squad with the next-best overall record. Currently, that would be Tulsa. In the South, San Antonio has a one-game lead over first-half champ Frisco and a two-game lead over Corpus Christi. If Frisco repeats, then who will capture the division's second playoff spot is anyone's guess. San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Midland are within three games of one another in that category.
First-half winners: Huntsville (North), Mississippi (South)
The rising Montgomery Biscuits have pulled even with Jacksonville in the South, so this one is far from over (especially considering the fact that the two clubs end the season with a five-game series against one another). The first-half North Division-champion Huntsville Stars are bidding to repeat in the second half and currently maintain a two-game lead over Tennessee, four over Chattanooga and five over Carolina. If the Stars do indeed repeat, then the division's second playoff spot will go to the team with the best overall record, which will almost certainly be Tennessee.
First-half winners: San Jose (North), Lancaster (South)
Modesto and Visalia remain in a tight North Division race. Just like last week, the Nuts have a ½ game edge over the Oaks. With a five-game lead, the first-half champion Lancaster JetHawks seem like a good bet to repeat in the South Division. If that happens, Lake Elsinore will most likely claim the division's second playoff spot. The Storm are currently in second place in the division and also maintain the second-best overall record.
First-half winners: Frederick (Northern), Kinston (Southern)
Wilmington maintains a healthy 5 ½ game lead over Potomac in the Northern Division. The Nationals are just trying to get close enough so that the season-ending three-game set between the two clubs still has some meaning. First-half champion Kinston is slumping in the Southern Division, and its lead over second-place Salem is down to three games.
FLORIDA STATE LEAGUE
First-half winners: Brevard County (East), Sarasota (West)
The St. Lucie Mets have won nine of their past 10 and have shot past first-half champs Brevard County and into the top spot of the East Division. The Mets are 3 ½ games up on the Manatees and have a 4 ½ game edge on third-place Fort Myers. In the West, Dunedin rode a recent eight-game streak to the top of the division. The Blue Jays have just lost two straight to second-place Clearwater, however, and their lead currently stands at just two games.
SOUTH ATLANTIC LEAGUE
First-half winners: West Virginia (Northern), Augusta (Southern)
There's a lot going in the SAL. The Charleston RiverDogs just swept the Columbus Catfish in a three-game series and now trail the Catfish by just a half-game in the Southern Division. Asheville, meanwhile, is 1 ½ games back, while Rome is 3 ½ off of the pace. In the Northern Division, second-place Greensboro just swept front-running Hickory to pull to within 3 ½ games of the Crawdads. Lakewood and Delmarva are four games back, while Lake County is 4 ½ out.
First-half winners: Dayton (Eastern), Beloit (Western)
The Midwest League's Eastern Division is pretty much wrapped up. Lansing has already clinched a second-half playoff spot and South Bend will shortly follow suit. But some rumblings are currently taking place over in the Western Division. The Cedar Rapids Kernels have won eight straight games and now lead the race for the division's Wild Card spot over Peoria (one game back) and Kane County (two games back). The Kernels are 4 ½ games behind the first-place Swing of the Quad Cities.
NEW YORK-PENN LEAGUE
Division leaders: Brooklyn (McNamara), Auburn (Pinckney), Oneonta (Stedler)
Brooklyn's lead over Staten Island in the McNamara Division has been reduced to 3 ½ games. As those NYC-based clubs are the two best in the league, it remains a good bet that whomever doesn't win the division will go to the playoffs as the Wild Card team. Meanwhile, Auburn has increased its lead in the Pinckney Division to 4 ½ games over Mahoning Valley. The Stedler Division remains tight, as Oneonta is 1 1/2 games up on Lowell and three ahead of slumping Vermont.
Division leaders: Spokane (East), Salem-Keizer (West)
The Volcanoes surprised absolutely no one by clinching the West Division this week. The club currently has a .762 winning percentage, while no other team in the division is above .500. Amazingly enough, no team in the tightly packed East division is above .500 either. Spokane is currently a half-game up on Tri-City and 1 ½ ahead of both Boise and Yakima.
Division winners: Danville (East), Elizabethton (West)
Nothing to see here, folks, as the Appy League playoff picture is set. For the third straight season, East Division-champion Danville will be taking on West Division-champion Elizabethton. The E-Twins won it all in 2005, while the D-Braves took home the crown last season.
First-half winners: Helena (North), Idaho Falls (South)
At 16-6, Great Falls is sitting pretty in the North Division, as the White Sox currently lead first-half champion Helena by 4 ½ games, Billings by 5 ½ and Missoula by 6 ½. Idaho Falls, the South Division's first-half champion, is currently leading Orem by one game and Ogden by five.
First-half winner: Mariners
The Giants have won four in a row and are currently tied with the Royals atop the AZL's second-half standings. The Angels are 1 ½ games back, while the Athletics are three off the pace. Just five games remain in the league's 56-game split-season schedule.
GULF COAST LEAGUE
Division leaders: Yankees (North), Dodgers (East), Twins (South)
The Yankees have clinched the North Division, while the Dodgers have won the East. The two clubs are duking it out for the league's top record, however, with the winner in that category receiving a first-round bye in the playoffs. In the South Division, the Twins lead the Orioles by 2 ½ games. The two clubs play one another in Monday's regular-season finale.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.