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2012 MLB Standings: Tampa Bay Rays Right Behind Playoff Leaders

After taking two of three from the AL East co-leading New York Yankees and a day off, the slate doesn't get easier for the Tampa Bay Rays as they get set to host the AL West-leading Texas Rangers for a three game set beginning Friday.

The Rays are still very much in the thick of the playoff race, as they trail the Yankees and Baltimore Orioles by two games in the AL East and Wild Card, while only 1.5 behind the Oakland Athletics for the second and final Wild Card spot.

Even on the outside looking in, having two avenues to reach the playoffs gives Tampa Bay plenty to play for the rest of the way. The same can't be said for the Miami Marlins, however.

The Fish are dead last in the NL East with no realistic shot at catching the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals for one of the NL Wild Card spots. Nevertheless, the games must go on, and the Marlins can play spoilers beginning with a three-game set with the first-place Washington Nationals Friday night.

For more on the Rays, visit DRaysBay. For more on the Marlins, visit Fish Stripes. See the complete MLB standings at SI.com.

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