So it all comes down to this.
After dropping the first two games of their final regular season series against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Yankees find themselves in a must-win scenario if they wish to secure themselves a Wild Card spot for the American League win-or-go-home bout on Tuesday night.
Or they could have some teams lose. But, uh, even if those teams win, they still have a chance to make it, too.
What do we mean by all this? Game 162 is crucial for many clubs in the AL Wild Card hunt, four to be particular. And a combination of wins and losses by each of them have different implications for how this Wild Card Game will eventually play out.
Those four teams are the Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners. The three AL East teams have been up and down all season, but clearly have proven to be one of the toughest divisions in the game, with the Tampa Bay Rays already securing the East title and they await the winner of that AL Wild Card Game to face in the ALDS. But the Mariners have also found their groove recently and just seem to have that Cinderella-story mindset right now.
As standings currently sit heading into the final regular season game of the year, the Red Sox own home field advantage over the Yanks despite both teams having the same 91-70 record. The Sox won the season series 10-9, so that determines that.
However, the Jays and Mariners are just one game back of that second Wild Card for the Yanks. So let’s breakdown everything that could possibly happen for New York whether they win or lose on Sunday afternoon.
Yankees Win = In
The Yanks really control their own destiny here. If they beat the Rays at home on Sunday (Jameson Taillon is slated for the start), they will at least be the second Wild Card team.
The only way they’d be able to get home-field advantage, though, is if the Sox were to lose to the Washington Nationals on the road and they win. The Nats’ starter is a rookie making his Major League debut, while Chris Sale is on the mound, so it looks like Boston wants to lock in their Fenway Park Wild Card Game without a doubt.
But either way, this is a must-win for the Yanks if they don’t want to play a Game 163. But let’s get to that now.
Possible Game 163 scenarios
Since we’re talking about two teams just one game back of the second Wild Card position, there are multiple scenarios where an added regular season bout needs to occur.
Let’s check them out where New York loses but one of the fringe teams wins their matchup:
– NYY loses, TOR loses, SEA wins: Yankees would host Mariners for Game 163 on Monday. Winner takes on Red Sox at Fenway Park on Tuesday night for Wild Card Game.
– NYY loses, TOR wins, SEA loses: Yankees travel to Toronto to face Blue Jays on Monday night for Game 163. Winner heads to Boston on Tuesday night for Wild Card Game.
Simple, right? But it can potentially get worse.
Three-Way Tie for second Wild Card
There’s a chance for this, too. And four different possibilities are among them:
– NYY as first Wild Card Team, three-way tie elsewhere: Blue Jays play at the Mariners on Monday night for Game 163. Winner heads to Boston to determine second Wild Card team on Tuesday night for Game 164. Wild Card game pushed to Wednesday night in the Bronx.
– BOS as first Wild Card Team, three-way tie elsewhere: Yankees host Mariners on Monday night, and Jays await winner on Tuesday night in Toronto. Wild Card game pushed to Wednesday night at Fenway.
– SEA eliminated, three-way tie elsewhere: Jays take on Red Sox in Boston on Monday night. Winner is first Wild Card team, loser goes to New York to face Yankees. Winner is second Wild Card and home team is dependent on season series results.
– TOR eliminated, three-way tie elsewhere: Yankees head to Boston to determine first Wild Card on Monday night, loser goes to Seattle to face Mariners for second Wild Card on Tuesday. Winners of each game gets home field based on regular season schedule.
It’s a lot to comprehend I know. But, of course, we’re not finished. What about the infamous…
This is where it gets fun. Let’s say the Yanks and Sox both lose and the Jays and Mariners both win. That creates the four-way tie and some baseball fanatics that love chaos want to see this go down.
But this is actually simpler than the three-way scenarios above. It goes like this:
– NYY @ BOS
– SEA @ TOR
– Winner of each advance to Wild Card Game on Tuesday night. Home team dependent on season series results.
This would be cool to see because it’s basically a Wild Card Game within a Wild Card Game. Inception, I know.
But as we mentioned, Yankee fans, destiny is yours to control. New York takes the victory on Sunday and they don’t have to worry about the results. It may not be a home field advantage but it would be a chance at vying for the World Series.
And after a season that defines rollercoaster with the amount of twists, turns, ups and downs the Yanks went through, that’s all you can ask for.
So buckle up, make sure you have all the scores up with every game starting at either 3:05 p.m. or 3:10 p.m. Sunday, and get ready for a wild last game of the 2021 regular season.
Unless we need to play more.