The AL East will come down to a 25-game brawl for first place, as the New York Yankees' lead has gone down to zero, leaving them tied with the Baltimore Orioles with three dramatic games in Baltimore coming up.
New York's recent stumbles -- they're 5-11 since winning a series against the Red Sox at home -- have synced up with a 10-2 run that has Baltimore in playoff contention for the first time since 1997. The Yankees' season-long dependence on the long-ball has come back to haunt them as they're struggling to produce runs, while their pitching staff has served up at least one long ball in each of the team's last ten games, including six Thursday night against Baltimore.
All that leaves the team knotted with Baltimore, meaning one of the two teams will leave this weekend's pivotal series with either a one-game or three-game lead in the AL East. Here's a full look at the standings.
AL East Standings
The good news for Yankees fans is that even if they can't hold on to the division lead, they're currently tied for the Wild Card lead, two games ahead of Tampa Bay. Of course, it would be much better to win the division, as the Wild Card winners will still have to win a one-game playoff to get into the ALDS.
American League Wild Card Standings
|New York||77||60||.562||0||Lost 1|
|Tampa Bay||75||62||.547||2||Lost 2|
|Los Angeles||74||63||.540||3||Won 3|
|Kansas City||61||76||.445||16||Lost 2|
(updated 9.7.2012 at 9:16 AM CDT)