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Playoff races near the finish line08/31/2007 3:02 PM ET
By Benjamin HIll / Special to MLB.com
Here's a closer look at what the playoff picture looks like as most leagues enter the final weekend of play.
Division leaders: Scranton/WB (North), Durham (South), Toledo (West)
The SWB Yankees clinched the North Division on Wednesday evening, becoming the second team in the IL to secure a playoff berth (West Division-champion Toledo was the first). The South Division is still up for grabs, as the Durham Bulls possess a two-game lead over the Richmond Braves with four games to go in the regular season. The Braves have a half-game edge over the Rochester Red Wings and a 1 ½ game advantage over the Buffalo Bisons in the race for the wild Card. The Red Wings and Bisons close out the regular season with a four-game series in Rochester.
PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE
Division leaders: Nashville (American North), New Orleans (American South), Salt Lake (Pacific North), Sacramento (Pacific South)
Nashville has wrapped up the American North Division, while Salt Lake has secured the top spot in the Pacific North. In the Pacific South, Sacramento is on the verge of clinching, as the River Cats' magic number to clinch the division over second-place Tucson stands at one. As always, that leaves the unpredictable American South as the division with the most intrigue. The first-place New Orleans Zephyrs just swept a four-game series against the rival Oklahoma RedHawks, who are now 2 ½ games out. The RedHawks will seek to rebound in a season-ending series against the second-place Albuquerque Isotopes, who have lost four games in a row and now trail the Zephyrs by one game.
Division leaders: Trenton (Northern), Erie (Southern)
The Erie SeaWolves and Akron Aeros have clinched the Southern Division's two playoff spots. The SeaWolves -- who are playing seven games against Altoona over the next four days -- have a four-game lead over the Aeros and will most likely be the division champs. The Northern Division is a bit more interesting, as the Portland Sea Dogs and the New Hampshire Fisher Cats are battling for the second-place playoff spot. The Sea Dogs, who are closing out the season with five games against New Britain, currently have a 1 ½ game lead. The Fisher Cats, meanwhile, will be hosting Northern Division-champion Trenton in a four-game set.
First-half winners: Springfield (North), Frisco (South)
The Springfield Cardinals -- who already won the first-half title in the North Division - have a 3 ½ game lead over both the Arkansas Travelers and the Tulsa Drillers. If the Cardinals repeat, then the division's second playoff spot will almost certainly go to the Drillers (who have a four-game lead over the Travelers in the overall season standings). The San Antonio Missions' lead in the South Division is now at three games over the first-half champion Frisco RoughRiders. The Missions close out the season with four games against the Midland RockHounds, who still have a chance at securing the second-best overall record in the division should Frisco find a way to repeat.
First-half winners: Huntsville (North), Mississippi (South)
The Montgomery Biscuits have chosen the right time of year in which to get hot, as they've reeled off 11 straight wins and now have a four-game lead over the Jacksonville Suns in the South Division. The Biscuits play the Suns five times over the next four days, so this one's not quite over yet. The slumping Huntsville Stars, who won the first-half title in the North, currently have a half-game lead over the Tennessee Smokies and a 1 ½ game edge over the Chattanooga Lookouts. If the Stars repeat, then the division's second playoff spot will go to the Smokies (by virtue of having the division's second-best overall record).
First-half winners: San Jose (North), Lancaster (South)
Modesto has a one-game lead over Visalia in the North Division, but the drama in that race is considerably lessened by the fact that both teams have clinched playoff spots. In fact, the two clubs will face one another in the first round of the playoffs, with the winner then taking on first-half champion San Jose. Lancaster, which already won a first-half title, clinched the South's second-half title as well. Because the JetHawks repeated, the second seed in the South goes to the team with the next-best overall record, and the Wild Card goes to the club with the third-best overall mark. Lake Elsinore and Inland Empire are battling for those two positions.
First-half winners: Frederick (Northern), Kinston (Southern)
The Potomac Nationals have won 10 games in a row but still trail the Wilmington Blue Rocks by four games in the Northern Division. The Blue Rocks' magic number to clinch stands at one. In the Southern Division, the Salem Avalanche trail the first-half champion Kinston Indians by two games. Even if the Indians repeat, the Avalanche have secured a playoff spot due to having the division's next-best overall record.
FLORIDA STATE LEAGUE
First-half winners: Brevard County (East), Sarasota (West)
St. Lucie has a 2 ½ game advantage over Palm Beach in the East, and its magic number to clinch the division stands at one. The situation in the West is much more intriguing, as the Clearwater Threshers and Dunedin Blue Jays are tied for the league lead (technically, the Threshers lead by three percentage points). The Tampa Yankees, meanwhile, are just a half game out. Clearwater will play Lakeland over the season's final weekend, while Dunedin takes on Fort Myers and Tampa visits Sarasota.
SOUTH ATLANTIC LEAGUE
First-half winners: West Virginia (Northern), Augusta (Southern)
The SAL playoff picture could be determined as early as tonight, as the Hickory Crawdads and Columbus Catfish both have 3 ½ game leads in their respective divisions (the Crawdads lead Lakewood, while the Catfish have the edge over Charleston). Columbus' magic number stands at one, while Hickory's is at two.
First-half winners: Dayton (Eastern), Beloit (Western)
The Eastern Division's playoff match-ups are already set: First-half division winner Dayton will play second-half Wild Card South Bend, while first-half Wild Card West Michigan takes on second-half division winner Lansing. In the Western Division, the Swing of the Quad Cities have a lead of 2 ½ games over Cedar Rapids, 3 ½ over Peoria and four over Kane County. Whoever finishes in second place in this race will secure the divison's second-half Wild Card spot.
NEW YORK-PENN LEAGUE
Division leaders: Brooklyn (McNamara), Auburn (Pinckney), Oneonta (Stedler)
The Brooklyn Cyclones lead the Staten Island Yankees by 2 ½ games in the Northern Division. Even if the Yankees can't catch the Cyclones, they remain a good bet to reach the postseason as the Wild Card team (their lead in that category currently stands at four games over Lowell). Auburn has a healthy six-game advantage over Mahoning Valley in the Pinckney Division, while Oneonta is up by a game over Lowell in the Stedler Division. There are now eight days remaining in the NYPL season.
Division leaders: Tri-City (East), Salem-Keizer (West)
Salem Keizer has handily won the West Division (its lead over second-place Vancouver is currently at a monstrous 18 ½ games), but the East is still wide open. With six days remaining in the regular season, Tri-City leads Boise by one game, Spokane by 2 ½ and Yakima by four. No team in the division currently has a winning record.
Division winners: Danville (East), Elizabethton (West)
The Twins and Braves are currently competing in the Appy League finals, marking the third season in a row that this has happened. On Thursday, the Twins won the first game of the best-of-three series by a score of 2-0.
First-half winners: Helena (North), Idaho Falls (South)
With eight days remaining in the regular season, the Great Falls White Sox lead the Billings White Sox by 4 ½ games in the North Division. However, the two clubs close out the season with six games against one another, so this one is far from settled. The Idaho Falls Chukars, who won the first-half championship in the South, currently have a five-game lead over the Orem Owlz. Even if the Chukars repeat, the Owlz will most likely make the playoffs as a result of having the next-best overall record (the Ogden Raptors are 3 ½ games back in that category).
First-half winner: Mariners
The Mariners defeated the Giants, 8-5, in Thursday's winner-take-all championship game. Danny Wild struck out a career-high 14 batters over seven innings and earned the win.
GULF COAST LEAGUE
Division Winners: Yankees (North), Dodgers (East), Twins (South)
After splitting the first two games of the series, the Yankees defeated the Dodgers, 8-1, on Friday afternoon to win their second GCL Championship in the last three seasons. The Dodgers advanced to the finals for the second straight season but haven't been able to win it all. They lost to the Red Sox in 2006.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.