The Toronto Blue Jays trounced the Baltimore Orioles yesterday to the tune of 10-1, keeping their postseason dreams alive heading into the last game of the regular season.
As it stands, the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees are tied in the Wild Card standings and the Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners sit one game back. All four teams will be playing just after 3:00 pm EST today so it will be known at around the same time whether or not the Blue Jays will be in playoff contention and possibly heading to a tiebreaker game depending on what the out of town scoreboards says.
Here are the different scenarios if the Blue Jays win their game today against the Orioles
Yankees and Red Sox both win
If the Yankees and Red Sox both win, the Blue Jays and Mariners will both be eliminated from playoff contention as they will continue to stay one game back of both teams, regardless if either the Jays or Mariners win their respective games.
One of the Yankees/Red Sox wins and one loses plus a Mariners loss
If either one of the Red Sox or Yankees loses and the other one wins along with a Blue Jays win, there will be two teams tied for the second Wild Card spot. This would involve a sudden-death tiebreaker game to see which team would face the other in the Wild Card game- a game 163 if you will.
If the Jays face the Red Sox in the tiebreaker, they would not be at home because the Sox hold the season record over Toronto while the Blue Jays would be playing at home if they end up tying the Yankees, as Toronto holds the season record over the Bronx Bombers in 2021.
One of the Yankees/Red Sox wins and one loses plus a Mariners win
Now, what happens if the Mariners win in the above scenario and it is a three-way tie for the second spot? It gets a bit more complicated.
Each team will then be designated a letter, either A, B, or C, with each team getting to choose their appropriate letter based on head-to-head record combined between all three teams. This article from CBSsports.com outlines all the different winning percentages/records between the four teams in question depending on which of the two teams loses.
With the letter designation, this is how it plays out:
Team A hosts Team B
Winner of Team A/B game hosts Team C
That means that Team C would only have to play one elimination game instead of two but would be the visitor while Team A gets to play at home both games (if they win the first one).
I would think that any team that gets the best percentage would pick to be Team C to only have to play one game and take the risk of playing on the road rather than try and win two games. The second choice most likely picks to be Team A for the home advantage and the last club takes whatever is remaining.
The winner of this whole tiebreaker scenario would then go on to face the other Wild Card contender, who would be either the Red Sox or Yankees depending on who finished with 92 wins.
Four teams are competing for a spot in the AL Wild Card and the Blue Jays need a win today to keep their playoff hopes alive.
For the Blue Jays sake, if they tie with the Red Sox and Mariners for the second Wild Card spot, they would get the last letter pick as both clubs have the season record edge over the Jays.
If the Yankees lose instead of the Red Sox, it gets a bit tricky, as the Blue Jays hold the record over the Yanks, the Yankees hold the edge over the Mariners, while the Mariners hold the edge over the Blue Jays.
Percentage-wise, the Blue Jays should get the first pick because they would hold a combined 13-12 record compared to the Yankees 13-13 and Mariners 6-7 records. I would imagine they would take option C but could take Team A if they really like their chances of playing at home versus being the visitor but the risk would be high in that they would have to win two games.
Both the Yankees and Red Sox lose with a Mariners loss
The three teams would tie for 91 wins on the season while the Mariners would not make the playoffs. With three teams vying for two spots, the A, B, C situation would be enacted similar to the scenario mentioned above but with a twist.
Team A would face Team B again, with the winner of that game earning a spot in the Wild Card. The loser of that game would then go on to face Team C (who would be the home team), with the winner of that game taking the second spot, forming the Wild Card game against either Team A or B (whoever won the first tiebreaker game).
The Red Sox would get the first pick (20-18) while the Blue Jays would get the second pick (20-18), as the Sox hold the series over the Jays (10-9), leaving the Yankees with the last letter due to their 17-21 record against the other two teams.
Boston would most likely choose to take A as that would give them two chances of making the Wild Card with the first game being at home while the Blue Jays would most likely take Team B to give them two chances as well but both would be on the road (if they lose the first game). That leaves the Yankees at option C, where they get only one chance but would at least be the home team.
A four-way tie
A four-way tie for the two Wild Card spots is possible this year but a few things would have to go right or wrong depending on who you cheer for.
For this scenario to occur, the Red Sox and Yankees would both have to lose and the Blue Jays and Mariners would both have to win, meaning each team finishes with 91 wins on the season.
Somewhat similar to a three-way tie, each team would be given a letter – A, B, C, or D – based on record once again. Team A would face Team B and Team C would face Team D, with A and C being home. The winner of each game would advance to face the other in the Wild Card game.
The Red Sox would get the first choice (24-21), Blue Jays second (22-22), Yankees third (22-23), and Mariners last (9-11) when it comes to picking letters. The most likely scenario would see Boston and Toronto deciding to be A and C to play at home with the Yankees deciding who they want to face and the Mariners taking who is left over.
The AL Wild Card situation is super confusing given the different scenarios and outcomes that could occur but it will all mean nothing if the Blue Jays don’t win tomorrow.
They do need one of the Yankees and Red Sox to lose as well because if both teams win, the Jays cannot advance and would be mathematically eliminated. It also should be noted that no matter what, the Blue Jays will have to play a tiebreaker game of some sort given that the best the club can do is reach 91 wins while the worst both Boston and New York can do is finish with 91 wins if either loses tomorrow.
Win tomorrow against the Baltimore Orioles and hope that the Tampa Bay Rays, Washington Nationals, and Los Angeles Angels can all figure out how to win as well so the Jays can at least head to a tiebreaker and keep the playoff hopes alive.