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When the dust settles in the Central League, the top three teams — whoever they may be — might look back at this week as the period when everything either began to come together or started to fall apart.

The Hanshin Tigers and Yomiuri Giants begin the week atop the standings — the Tigers holding a slim advantage on percentage points — with the Chunichi Dragons in third place just 2 1/2 games behind. The fourth-place Tokyo Yakult Swallows are eight games further back, but are 5 1/2 out of a spot in the top three.

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