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Playoff Snapshot: AL East, AL Central plots thicken

By Dayn Perry | Baseball Writer

PLayoffs

The Yankees now have the slightest bit of breathing room in the AL East, but a 1 1/2-game lead is far from safe. As for the White Sox, a late-inning comeback against Cleveland spared them from a first-place tie with the Tigers. There's no let-up, though, as Tuesday offers a full 15-game slate.

Playoff Picture page | Monday scoreboard | Three-day schedule

Tuesday's biggest five games ...

1. Indians at White Sox, 2:10 p.m. ET

The Sox pulled out a thrilling win on Monday night to maintain their slim lead in the AL Central. On Tuesday, they'll turn to Francisco Liriano, who's looked better of late. Opposing him will be Corey Kluber, who has a 5.36 ERA across 10 starts this season. Chicago is 9-4 against the Indians in 2012.

2. Royals at Tigers, 7:05 p.m. ET

Anibal Sanchez, who's notched a quality start in five of his last six outings, takes up the Tigers' cause against KC. Bruce Chen and his 5.22 ERA opposse. While his overall numbers are ugly, Chen is coming off one of his best starts of the season.

3. Blue Jays at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. ET

Monday's events dropped the Orioles to 1 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the AL East, so this is of course a critical one for Baltimore. Joe Saunders, the Orioles' starter, is coming off a gem against Seattle. His opposite number, Aaron Laffey, has a K/BB ratio of just 1.30 this season.

4. A's at Rangers, 8:05 p.m. ET

It's an intriguing pitching match-up, as Tommy Milone takes on fellow rookie Yu Darvish. This could be a tough one for the A's, given that Darvish has been absolutely dominant since making some mechanical adjustments not long ago.

5. Yankees vs. Twins, 8:10 p.m. ET

The lowly Twins present the Yankees with a chance to put a bit more space between themselves and the second-place Orioles. The Twins will start Esmerling Vasquez, who has a 6.75 ERA and has failed to post a quality start in four chances this season. The Yankees will counter with Phil Hughes, who is himself coming off a shaky outing.

Magic Numbers

NL WC1: Braves 1
AL West: Rangers 5
NL East: Nationals 5
AL WC1: Orioles 6
NL WC2: Cardinals 6
AL WC2: A's 8
AL East: Yankees 8
AL Central: White Sox 9

Grim Reaper Watch

It could be the Pirates' turn to meet the cold realities of mathematical elimination. A Cardinals win over the Astros in tandem with a Pittsburgh loss to the Mets will mean the Pirates are officially out of postseason contention.

The following teams have already been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs: Astros, Cubs, Rockies, Indians, Twins, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Mariners, Marlins, Mets, Royals and Padres.

Playoff chances, via coolstandings.com

AL East champion

Yankees 87.9%
Orioles 12.1%
Rays 0.1%

AL Central champion

White Sox 67.2%
Tigers 32.8%

AL West champion

Rangers 95.0%
A's 4.9%
Angels 0.1%

AL Wild Card

Orioles 80.0%
A's 70.2%
Angels 22.3%
Yankees 11.9%
Rays 10.5%
Rangers 4.9%
White Sox 0.1%
Tigers 0.1%

NL East champion

Nationals 98.7%
Braves 1.3%

NL Wild Card

Braves 98.7%
Cardinals 88.4%
Brewers 7.6%
Dodgers 3.4%
Nationals 1.3%
Diamondbacks 0.4%
Phillies 0.1%

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.

 
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