Major League Baseball has entered the home stretch, and there plenty of teams still competing for the playoffs.


Thanks to baseball’s two-team wild-card system this year, there are 11 teams that are still competing for a wild-card spot.

Going into Tuesday’s games, Tampa Bay and Baltimore were tied atop the AL wild-card standings, meaning the Rays and Orioles held the two available slots, while Oakland was a half-game behind and Detroit was 1 1/2 out. The Los Angeles Angels (4 GB), Boston Red Sox (7 GB) and Seattle Mariners (7.5 GB) had a slimmer chance of reaching the postseason, but they’re still in the race.

In the NL, Atlanta and Pittsburgh were tied for the wild-card lead, and would make the playoffs if it stayed that way. The Los Angeles Dodgers were a half-game back, St. Louis was 1 1/2 games behind and Arizona was five games out.

The New York Yankees (AL East), Texas Rangers (AL West), Washington Nationals (NL East) and Cincinnati Reds (NL Central) have comfortable leads in their divisions and should be able to make the postseason, while the Chicago White Sox (AL Central) and San Francisco Giants (NL West) had slim leads.

Tampa Bay has a good shot at earning one of the two wild-card spots, considering it’s pitching leads the AL in ERA. But 25 of the Rays last 40 games are against playoff contenders.

The Orioles have made great strides, but they have 22 games left against teams with winning records. The A’s have 17 of their final 24 road games against teams with winning records.

Detroit, with its power and pitching, is the best bet to earn one of the wild-card slots if the Tigers don’t win the AL Central. The Angels still have a shot, but they’ve been too inconsistent.

In the NL, Atlanta should be a favorite to get to the postseason with just 12 of its last 40 games against teams with winning records. The Braves added pitching and depth to get them over the hump.

The Pirates haven’t been to the playoffs in nearly two decades, but they might have a shot with 21 of their last 39 games at home. The Dodgers and Giants are in a battle for the NL West crown, with the loser having a strong chance at the wild-card. And defending World Series champion St. Louis will have a tough path, playing 13 road games against the Reds, Pirates, Nationals and Dodgers.

StatsWatch: Chicago White Sox DH/1B Adam Dunn joined the 400-homer club on Saturday. Here’s the list of active players who have hit at least 400 home runs, but less than 500 (through Monday:

  • Albert Pujols, Angels, 473
  • Chipper Jones, Braves, 467
  • Andruw Jones, Yankees, 433
  • Jason Giambi, Rockies, 429
  • Paul Konerko, White Sox, 416
  • Adam Dunn, White Sox, 401
  • David Ortiz, Red Sox, 401

Diamond Notes: Former major league pitcher Roger Clemens has signed with the Sugar Land (Texas) Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League. Clemens, 50, hasn’t committed to more than one game. He was acquitted in June of charges he lied to Congress when he denied using performance enhancing drugs. He last pitched for the New York Yankees in 2007…Injured Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was charged with driving under the influence on Monday by Tampa police. Acquired in an off-season trade with Seattle, Pineda, 23, has missed the entire season after having shoulder surgery…Red Sox OF Carl Crawford was scheduled to have Tommy John Surgery this week to repair a torn ligament in his left elbow. He hit .282 with 3 home runs an 19 RBIs in 31 games this season…Florida’s Giancarlo Stanton became the first player in major league history to homer in his first six games at a visiting ballpark (Coors Field) on Saturday…In 54 of his first 56 appearances, Reds closer Aroldis Chapman recorded at least one strikeout…The Red Sox released pitcher Mark Prior, who had been attempting to earn a bullpen job. Prior, who hasn’t pitched in the major leagues since 2006, threw 25 innings for Triple-A Pawtucket this season.

Copyright © 2012 Bob Hurst. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Hurst Sports Media.

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