MLB Playoff Picture 2021: Yankees, Red Sox, Jays Still Alive in AL Wild Card Race
AP Photo/Nick Wass
The 2021 American League Wild Card race got a whole lot tighter after the conclusion of Saturday afternoon’s games.
The New York Yankees entered Saturday with a one-game edge on the Boston Red Sox and a two-game lead on the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners, but an ugly 12-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays has closed the gap.
Later in the afternoon, the Blue Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles 10-1 before the Boston Red Sox took down the Washington Nationals 5-3.
The Mariners have a 9:10 p.m. ET home matchup with the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday. It’s a win-or-go-home scenario for Seattle, who will stay alive in the race with a victory.
Here’s a quick look at the current standings, the remaining schedule and pitching matchups as well as notable scenarios.
AL Wild Card Standings
T-1. Boston Red Sox: 91-70
T-1. New York Yankees: 91-70
3. Toronto Blue Jays: 90-71
4. Seattle Mariners: 89-71
Los Angeles Angels at Seattle Mariners, 9:10 p.m. ET: Jhonathan Diaz (LAA) vs. Chris Flexen (SEA)
Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees, 3:05 p.m. ET: Michael Wacha (TB) vs. Jameson Taillon (NYY)
Boston Red Sox at Washington Nationals, 3:05 p.m. ET: Chris Sale (BOS) vs. TBD (WSH)
Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays, 3:07 p.m. ET: Bruce Zimmermann (BAL) vs. Hyun Jin Ryu (TOR)
Los Angeles Angels at Seattle Mariners, 3:10 p.m. ET: Reid Detmers (LAA) vs. Tyler Anderson (SEA)
The top two teams in the standings will face each other in the AL Wild Card Game, with the winner facing the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL Division Series starting Thursday.
The wild-card game is currently scheduled for Monday at 8:08 p.m. ET but will be pushed to Tuesday (or Wednesday in one scenario) if tiebreakers are needed.
Tiebreaker games will be played to determine the top two participants if needed.
For example, if three teams are tied for the AL Wild Card lead at the end of the season, then there will be a three-team playoff to determine the eventual AL Wild Card winner.
Two teams would play each other in a single game Monday, and the winner would host the remaining team Tuesday.
A three-team playoff would also occur if it’s just for the second AL Wild Card spot under the aforementioned format.
In that instance, that three-team winner would then meet the team that finished in the first Wild Card spot to determine who visits Tampa Bay. The AL Wild Card Game would then go down Wednesday.
If all four teams are tied in the standings, then there will be a de facto AL Wild Card tournament. One team would host another, with the other two teams playing each other. The winner of each matchup would meet Tuesday to determine the AL Wild Card winner.
There will not be a tiebreaker if two teams are tied alone atop the AL Wild Card standings. In that instance, the team with the better head-to-head record will just host the other in the AL Wild Card Game.
There will be a tiebreaker if two teams are tied for the second spot. That game would take place Monday, with the winner visiting the team occupying the first wild-card position on Tuesday.
As far as how positioning is determined within tiebreaker scenarios, please consult this detailed guide from MLB.com for more information.
Yankees and Red Sox Control Their Own Destiny
Simply put, the Yankees and Red Sox control their own destinies. A win for either team would cement a spot in the AL Wild Card Game.
If they both win, New York will be heading to Boston for that matchup. That would be Monday at 8:08 p.m. at Fenway Park. The Red Sox would host by virtue of winning the regular-season series 10-9 over the Yanks.
The winner would face the Rays in the ALDS.
The worst-case scenario for either the Yankees or Red Sox is playing in a tiebreaking game to determine whether they would play in the AL Wild Card Game matchup. Neither the Yankees nor the Red Sox can be eliminated after Sunday even if they lose.
Mariners and Blue Jays Need Help
Seattle must win Saturday and Sunday to stay alive. Toronto must win Sunday as well. Losses for either side will end their seasons.
If both teams win out, then they need the Yankees or the Red Sox to lose to force a tiebreaker scenario.
Neither Seattle nor Toronto can go directly into the AL Wild Card Game. They both would need to win a tiebreaking game to get there.
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