MLB Playoff Format 2013: Breaking Down AL Wild Card Tiebreaker Scenarios

Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIISeptember 28, 2013

Sep 27, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Tampa Bay Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey watches the action against the Toronto Blue Jays in the ninth inning at Rogers Centre. Toronto defeated Tampa Bay 6-3. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Spo

The Tampa Bay Rays have picked a horrible time to hit a snag. The team came into its final series against the Toronto Blue Jays needing to win just one game to ensure a berth in the AL Wild Card Game.

After dropping the first two games of this all-important series, the Rays have to win on Sunday to have a shot at playing in the AL Wild Card Game. They are now 90-71 and tied for the second wild-card spot with the Texas Rangers.

The Cleveland Indians have won nine straight and are now sitting in the top spot at 91-70.


First Scenario

Sep 26, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona (right) talks to Cleveland Indians third base coach Brad Mills in the dug out during the third inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Everything could be made simple if the Indians defeat the Minnesota Twins, and the Rays and Rangers win and lose, respectively or vice versa.

Even the simple option is complicated.

That would create a postseason scenario where Sunday's winners would meet at Progressive Field to see which wild-card team advances to the AL Division Series. As crazy as this final week of the major league season has been, we should be prepared for things to get complex.


Second Scenario

Jun 12, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Cleveland Indians shortstop Mike Aviles (4) rounds second base after hitting a home run during the second inning against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

If the Indians lose and both the Rangers and Rays win, there would be a three-way tie for the two spots. Per, here's how that would be settled.

Essentially, the Rays would play the Indians in Cleveland on Monday for the top wild-card spot. The loser of this game would play the Rangers in Texas for the second wild-card spot on Tuesday. The AL Wild Card Game would be played on Wednesday.

It would be hosted by the winner of the Rays-Indians game. Since the Rays and Indians had the two highest winning percentages in head-to-head games among the three teams, they have two chances to earn one of the spots.


Third Scenario

Sep 27, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers right fielder Alex Rios (51) is congratulated by first baseman Mitch Moreland (left) after scoring against the Los Angeles Angels during the seventh inning of a baseball game at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington
Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

If the Indians win and the Rangers and Rays both win or lose, the latter two will finish the season tied. The Indians would remain in the wild-card spot and host the AL Wild Card Game. The Rays and Rangers would play a tiebreaker game for the final spot on Monday. If all three teams lose on Sunday, we would get the same result.

The more confusing this whole wild-card thing gets, the more fun it is to follow. Stay tuned for an epic Sunday of baseball to see which of these three scenarios plays out.


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