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The Globe and Mail

A playoff race worthy of the Great One

While Wayne Gretzky threw out the opening pitch for Toronto, who missed the postseason, the centre of attention outside of Canada were the nail-biting postseason races.

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Wayne Gretzky throws out the ceremonial first pitch ahead of the MLB American League game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Minnesota Twins in Toronto on Monday, October 1, 2012. The Blue Jays beat the Twins 6-5.

Chris Young/THE CANADIAN PRESS

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New York Yankees batter Curtis Granderson (14) and runner Nick Swisher celebrate at home plate after Granderson hit a two-run home run against the Boston Red Sox in the second inning of their MLB American League game at Yankee Stadium in New York, October 1, 2012. The Yankees beat the Red Sox 10-2 to open up a one-game lead on the Baltimore Orioles for the AL East crown.

RAY STUBBLEBINE/REUTERS

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Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen, right, of Taiwan, reacts as he gets a new baseball while manager Buck Showalter heads to the mound during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Monday, Oct. 1, 2012, in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Rays won 5-3 to keep their faint playoff hopes alive while the Orioles slipped one game behind the New York Yankees in the AL East pennant race.

Chris O'Meara/AP

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Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera celebrates with teammates after his solo home run in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Monday, Oct. 1, 2012. The Tigers clinched the AL Central Division title with a 6-3 victory.

Orlin Wagner/AP

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Chicago White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn hits an RBI-single off Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber in the sixth inning of a baseball game, Monday, Oct. 1, 2012, in Cleveland. center fielder Dewayne Wise scored. The White Sox won 11-0 and now will focus on a wildcard spot.

Tony Dejak/AP

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Washington Nationals players cheer with fans on the field as the team celebrate their National League East Division championship at the end of their MLB National League baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies in Washington October 1, 2012. Despite being beaten 2-0 by the Philadelphia, the Nationals earned their first division title since moving from Montreal in 2005, because the second-place Atlanta Braves lost 2-1 at the Pittsburgh Pirates.

JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS

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Oakland Athletics' Coco Crisp (4) is congratulated after scoring against the Texas Rangers in the first inning of a baseball game, Monday, Oct. 1, 2012, in Oakland, Calif. Crisp scored on a single by Josh Reddick.

Ben Margot/AP

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Kansas City Royals right fielder David Lough fails to catch a single by Detroit Tigers' Prince Fielder in the seventh inning of their MLB American League baseball game in Kansas City, Missouri October 1, 2012. The Tigers clinched the AL Central Division title with a 6-3 victory.

DAVE KAUP/REUTERS

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St. Louis Cardinals' Jason Motte, left, and Matt Holliday celebrate following the Cardinals' 4-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in a baseball game, Monday, Oct. 1, 2012, in St. Louis. St. Louis beat Cincinnati 4-2 and clinched at least a tie for the second NL wild card.

Jeff Roberson/AP

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U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) (L) gives a pep talk to Washington Nationals mascot Teddy Roosevelt in a comedy video shown on the scoreboard during their MLB National League baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies in Washington, October 1, 2012. In a mid-game tradition, Roosevelt always loses a footrace with fellow presidential mascots Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln. Despite their loss to Philadelphia the Nationals clinched their first NL East title after the Braves fell to the Pirates2-1.

JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS

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Tampa Bay Rays, from left, Ryan Roberts, Ben Francisco, and Chris Gimenez celebrate after the team defeated the Baltimore Orioles 5-3 during a baseball game, Monday, Oct. 1, 2012, in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Rays won 5-3 to keep their faint playoff hopes alive while the Orioles slipped one game behind the New York Yankees in the AL East pennant race.

Chris O'Meara/AP

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Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine closes his eyes as he makes a pitching change against the New York Yankees in the seventh inning of their MLB American League game at Yankee Stadium in New York, October 1, 2012. The Yankees beat the Red Sox 10-2 to open up a one-game lead on the Baltimore Orioles for the AL East crown.

RAY STUBBLEBINE/REUTERS

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Chicago White Sox's Dayan Viciedo, right, is congratulated by A.J. Pierzynski, left, and Ray Olmedo after Viciedo hit a grand slam in the ninth inning of a baseball game, Monday, Oct. 1, 2012, in Cleveland. Pierzynski, Olmedo and Jordan Danks scored. The White Sox won 11-0.

Tony Dejak/AP

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Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker watches from the dugout during a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Monday, Oct. 1, 2012, in St. Louis. Baker is back with his team after missing 11 games because of a mini-stroke.

Jeff Roberson/AP

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Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Gaby Sanchez, left, cannot handle the throw from third baseman Pedro Alvarez as Atlanta Braves' Freddie Freeman (5) leaps to get to first base in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Monday, Oct. 1, 2012. Alvarez was charged with an error on the throw. The Pirates won 2-1 meaning the Braves would settle for a wildcard spot while their hopes of an NL East crown ended.

Gene J. Puskar/AP

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Wayne Gretzky, right, chats with Minnesota Twins' Justin Morneau ahead of an MLB American League game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Minnesota Twins in Toronto on Monday, October 1, 2012.

Chris Young/THE CANADIAN PRESS

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