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Race card: Sox closing on Yankees

I've been pretty close to declaring all the races over but I'm still waiting to see if somebody is going to go all Mets on us and choke one away. The Tigers were the first candidate but Sunday's win in Minnesota gave them a three-game lead in the AL Central and some desperately needed breathing room.

The Angels, Phillies, Cardinals and Dodgers appear to have safe division leads while the Red Sox and Rockies seem to have a stranglehold on the wildcards. Give the standings a look here.

But can the Red Sox really catch up to the Yankees? The lead was nine games earlier this month and now it's down to five (just four in the loss column). The Sox have won 10 of 11 and open a four-game series tonight in Kansas City while the Yankees open a three-gamer in Anaheim.

The teams open a three-game set Friday in the Bronx and Boston has a very, very soft schedule the rest of the way. Both teams could end up with 100 wins. It's still a longshot that the Yankees would blow the lead but their pitching is a concern with Joba Chamberlain blowing up Sunday in Seattle and sore-shouldered Andy Pettitte going tonight.

Both teams are going to make the playoffs but things will be very interesting if the Sox can close the gap before this weekend. And the division winner likely gets the Tigers in the division series, a much more favorable opponent than the Angels.

---Mike Harrington

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