That’s why they play the games: MLB goes down to last day — and perhaps beyond — to determine playoff matchups


Boston Red Sox’s Enrique Hernandez (5) celebrates his two-run home run with Bobby Dalbec, second from right, and Travis Shaw (23) during the ninth inning of a baseball game Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, in Washington. Washington Nationals catcher Keibert Ruiz is at from left. The Red Sox won 5-3.(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

(AP) — It’s going to take all 162 games in Major League Baseball to declare winners, and even after the dust settles on the season’s final day Sunday, things still may not be locked down.

Red Sox ace Chris Sale takes the mound in Washington Sunday with a chance to pitch Boston into the postseason. A win would ensure the Red Sox host Tuesday’s AL wild-card game — they own a tiebreaker with the Yankees after winning the season series 10-9 — but Boston is still assured of at least a tiebreaker game Monday with a loss to the last-place Nationals.

Aaron Judge and the Yankees are tied with Boston for the top AL wild card and can also clinch a spot by beating 100-win Tampa Bay. If the Yankees win and the Red Sox lose, the wild-card game would come to the Bronx on Tuesday. New York is also assured at least another game Monday if it loses.

The Blue Jays and Mariners each need to win and get help. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and homer-happy Toronto is a game behind Boston and New York entering its finale against Baltimore and can force a tiebreaker game Monday with a win over the O’s and a loss by either the Red Sox or Yankees.

Seattle is also one game back entering Sunday after beating the Los Angeles Angels 6-4 late Saturday.

Any two-way tie for the second wild card would be settled by a one-game tiebreaker Monday. A three- or four-way tie gets more complicated.

-In the event of a three-way tie for the two wild cards, two of the teams (dubbed Clubs A and B) will play a one-game playoff Monday, with the winner advancing to the wild-card game and the loser forced on the road to face Club C. The winner of that game gets the other wild card. Teams get to pick whether to be Club A, B or C in this scenario based on head-to-head outcomes this year.

-If there’s a three-way tie for the second wild-card spot, Clubs A and B play a win-or-go-home game Monday, and the winner plays another do-or-die game the next day against Club C for entry into the actual wild-card game.

-A four-way tie would result in a pair of Game 163s on Monday, with two teams advancing to Tuesday’s wild-card game.

Meanwhile, in the National League West, the San Francisco Giants missed a chance to clinch the division, falling to the San Diego Padres 3-2 when Jake Cronenworth hit an RBI double in the 10th inning. The Giants’ seven-game winning streak ended, and the NL West race was pushed to the final day when the Dodgers beat Milwaukee 8-3 later in the day. The Giants’ magic number remained at one. If Los Angeles wins Sunday and San Francisco loses, the teams will play a Game 163 on Monday to determine a division champ. Either way, it appears the Dodgers will have to enter the postseason without the services of longtime ace Clayton Kershaw, whose left forearm issue is likely to sideline him for the rest of the year.

© 1998 - 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. | All Rights Reserved.

Trending on