The majority of the Major League Baseball postseason is now set in stone, but three teams are still battling for the final two playoff spots in the American League.
The Rays, Indians and Rangers all remain in contention for the AL’s wild card berths, and just two games separated the three teams entering Friday night.
The teams wrap up their regular-season slates this Sunday, and their close proximity in the standings creates the very real possibility of all three clubs finishing with identical records.
In preparation for this, MLB released its protocol for breaking a three-way tie, as summarized by MLB.com below.
“An eventual three-way tie would require two tiebreaker games — one on Monday and one on Tuesday — ahead of Wednesday’s AL Wild Card Game.
The bottom line is this: The Indians would host the Rays on Monday, with the winner earning one of the berths. The loser would play at Texas on Tuesday for the final spot.
That schedule is the result of the Indians having the best combined record (7-5) against the Rays and Rangers, and therefore having the right to choose to host the first game. The Rays’ combined record is second (7-6), and they chose to go on the road on Monday rather than host a game on Tuesday. The Rangers (5-8) were left with only that option.
Home-field advantage in Wednesday’s AL Wild Card Game then would be determined by the head-to-head record between the two remaining teams. The Rays hold the advantage over the Indians, the Indians over the Rangers, and the Rangers over the Rays.”
If only two teams finish with the same record, a different tiebreaker is needed, albeit a less confusing one:
— If Club A and Club B tie for first place in the wild card standings and Club C finishes third, A and B will meet in the AL Wild Card Game, with home-field advantage going to winner of the head-to-head season series.
— If Club A finished first in the wild card standings and Club B and Club C finish tied for second, B and C will play a one-game playoff for the right to play A in the Wild Card Game.
Tampa Bay finishes its season in Toronto, Cleveland travels to Minnesota and the Rangers host the Angels in Arlington.