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PEDs, Pirates and Puig headline second half in Major League Baseball

Published: Wednesday, July 1 2015 6:11 p.m. MDT

FILE - In this July 11, 2013 file photo, Baltimore Orioles' Chris Davis, center, is greeted by teammates in the dugout after hitting a solo home run in the second inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers in Baltimore.  (Patrick Semansky, File, Associated Press) FILE - In this July 11, 2013 file photo, Baltimore Orioles' Chris Davis, center, is greeted by teammates in the dugout after hitting a solo home run in the second inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers in Baltimore. (Patrick Semansky, File, Associated Press)

Much of the focus as baseball heads into the second half is on the possible suspensions of Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun and a handful of All-Stars implicated in the Biogenesis performance enhancing drug scandal.

Puigmania, a Pirates revival and one impressive power show in Baltimore may shift the gaze back onto the field, where there will be a lot to watch headed down the stretch of the regular season.

Fans who have been celebrating Mariano Rivera at every stop of his farewell tour should get a chance to watch returning stars Derek Jeter, Chris Carpenter, A-Rod and even Manny Ramirez after a first half dominated by 20-somethings.

The American League won the All-Star game on Tuesday night, giving home-field advantage in the World Series back to the junior circuit after three years of NL dominance. Now the race is on to get to the Fall Classic, and some underachieving preseason favorites are looking to make their moves.

Every playoff spot is legitimately up for grabs, with no team leading a division by more than a half-dozen games. And the NL East, where Atlanta is up six on Washington, is the only place where the division leader is ahead by three games or more.

FILE - In this July 3, 2013 file photo, Pittsburgh Pirates' Pedro Alvarez (24) celebrates as he returns to the dugout with teammate Pirates' Russell Martin (55), who scored on his three-run home run off Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher John Lannan during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh. Much of the focus as baseball heads into the second half is being placed on the possible suspensions of Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun and a handful of All-Stars implicated in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug scandal. Puigmania, a Pirates revival and one impressive power show in Baltimore should shift the gaze right back onto the field.  (Gene J. Puskar, File, Associated Press) FILE - In this July 3, 2013 file photo, Pittsburgh Pirates' Pedro Alvarez (24) celebrates as he returns to the dugout with teammate Pirates' Russell Martin (55), who scored on his three-run home run off Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher John Lannan during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh. Much of the focus as baseball heads into the second half is being placed on the possible suspensions of Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun and a handful of All-Stars implicated in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug scandal. Puigmania, a Pirates revival and one impressive power show in Baltimore should shift the gaze right back onto the field. (Gene J. Puskar, File, Associated Press)

What to look for in the second half, that begins Friday.

AP Baseball Writer Janie McCauley contributed to this report.

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