•?The magical month of September is here, the time when baseball races take a different shape every night. Entering the first day of the month, many of baseball’s divisions are as separated as they’ve been all year but are still close calls. Two divisions might be closed — the NL East, which the Atlanta Braves lead by 14 games and the NL West, where the red-hot Los Angeles Dodgers have opened up a 10.5-game lead on the field.

•?The third NL division, the Central, has perhaps been baseball’s best story of 2013. Entering Saturday the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates are tied for the division lead at 78-56. The Pirates have been the feel-good story of the year and have a great chance this week of ending a 20-plus year drought of losing baseball by winning their 82nd game. Also in the Central and lurking just 3.5 games behind them are the Cincinnati Reds at 75-60. At the moment, all three would make the playoffs by a good margin (six games over Arizona). The seeding is unset, but there’s a good chance the five teams to make it into the NL playoffs are already out in front.

•?The Pirates on Saturday took another step toward competing with the Cardinals by acquiring Twins first baseman Justin Morneau in exchange for outfielder Alex Presley and a player to be named later. The Pirates’ bats have cooled down over the last few weeks and the team was in need of some pop, which Morneau can provide (.259, 17 home runs this season).

•?The American League, aside from the AL Central, is much more wide open. The Texas Rangers (78-56) lead the Oakland A’s by only two games in the West and in the East, the Boston Red Sox (who expect pitcher Clay Buchholz to return within the next 10 days) lead the Tampa Bay Rays by 3.5 games.

•?That leaves the A’s (76-58) and Rays (75-58) as the two AL Wild Card front-runners with the Yankees (4 games back), Indians (4.5 games back) and Orioles (4.5 games back) trying to catch up. The Yankees have gotten huge contributions from Alfonso Soriano (12 home runs in 33 games with New York) and the O’s last week traded for Michael Morse, formerly of the Seattle Mariners.

— Ryan Lewis