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With six weeks left, nothing’s decided

- The Washington Times - Monday, August 20, 2007

With six weeks left in the season, there is still a race in every division.

The fate of many teams depends on the improved health of key players. For others, it's the hope that things keep going well.

Here is what each team needs to do to win its division:

AL East

The Boston Red Sox will win the division if they stop letting reliever Eric Gagne pitch.

Gagne, who was acquired in a deadline deal, is 1-1 with a 12.86 ERA in seven innings for the Red Sox. He has given up a run in five of his eight appearances.

The New York Yankees can win the division if they beat the Red Sox. The rivals have six games left against each other.

AL Central

The Cleveland Indians can win the division if Fausto Carmona and C.C. Sabathia continue to carry the starting rotation.

Paul Byrd has been passable. Jake Westbrook, Cliff Lee and Jeremy Sowers have been horrific.

The Detroit Tigers can win the division if they get well soon.

All-Stars Ivan Rodriguez and Placido Polanco and outfielder Craig Monroe have been out with the flu. Ace Justin Verlander and closer Todd Jones haven't been feeling well either.

AL West

The Los Angeles Angels can win the division if they play the rest of their games at home. The Angels are 40-17 there and 32-34 on the road.

The Seattle Mariners can win the division if J.J. Putz saves 13 more games, giving him 49 for the season. That would put the Mariners at about 93 wins.

NL East

The New York Mets can win the division if Pedro Martinez pitches for the first time since last season, helping an already solid rotation.

The Philadelphia Phillies can win the division if Chase Utley returns from the disabled list to polish his MVP resume.

NL Central

The Chicago Cubs can win the division if Lou Piniella and Carlos Zambrano channel their anger appropriately.

The Milwaukee Brewers can win the division if Ben Sheets returns and pitches like he did before he was injured.

The St. Louis Cardinals can win the division if Rick Ankiel hits 15 more home runs. Or more likely, if Albert Pujols does.

NL West

The Arizona Diamondbacks will win the division if they continue to defy logic.

The Diamondbacks have been outscored 559 to 539 this season. Since 1980, only four division winners have been outscored — the 1984 Kansas City Royals, 1987 Minnesota Twins, 1997 San Francisco Giants and 2005 San Diego Padres.

The Padres can win the division this season if Milton Bradley gets healthy.

Bradley, who has been out since Aug. 3 with a strained right hamstring, has hit .360 and slugged .627 with a .461 on-base percentage in 89 plate appearances with the Padres.