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2012 MLB Standings: Rays Can Eliminate White Sox Friday

The Tampa Bay Rays are one of five American League teams still mathematically alive for one of the two Wild Card spots. They can eliminate one of those teams with one more win over the Chicago White Sox.

The Rays (86-70) and White Sox (82-74) meet Friday night after Evan Longoria's ninth-inning homer gave Tampa Bay a 3-2 win in Thursday night's opener of the pivotal 4-game set in Chicago. Each team has six games remaining.

Tampa Bay is 2 games behind the Oakland Athletics for the second and final playoff spot, as are the Anaheim Angels. Baltimore is the top seed, a game ahead of Oakland. Chicago, after leading the AL Central most of the season, finds itself on the outside looking in, 2 games behind the Detroit Tigers. Chicago's elimination number for the Wild Card is down to 1.

The third-place Rays are still alive for the AL East crown, as well, just 4 games back of the division-leading New York Yankees, though it'd take near-perfect play and a Yankees collapse for that to happen. The Wild Card is still very much in play for Tampa Bay, even if they are one of four teams fighting for a spot during the season's final week.

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.