Angels-Rangers to battle this weekend in one of few real races

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Consider this an apology to the Angels. Last week at this time the AL West race was declared nearly over, as the Rangers had built a seven-game lead in what was headlined Separation Week.

But the Angels have since won six straight, during which time the Rangers have gone 2-5 to shrink the division lead back to 2 1/2 games. Texas faces Boston for one more game on Thursday and then welcomes Los Angeles to town for three games; if the Halos sweep, they'll be no worse than tied for the division and are treating it like a postseason series, planning to start two of their starting pitchers on three days' rest.

In the NL West the Diamondbacks lead the Giants by only two games, but nearly every other race for a playoff berth seems secure. If baseball had a second wild card implemented for this season, an idea that could become reality next year, the 70-58 Rays (No. 8 in the Power Rankings) would be in a virtual dead heat with the 71-59 Angels (No. 9) for playoff contention. And the Giants (No. 11) would have a slim two-game lead on the Cardinals (No. 14) for the NL's second wild card; instead, St. Louis' season is all but over.

NOTE: All stats are updated through Wednesday, Aug. 24.

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