Battle of the Yankees with Boston, Toronto and Seattle for the Wild Cards

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The Yankees will play further in October after Sunday.

There was a time this summer, with the season teetering on the verge of bitter disappointment, when those words could have sparked great excitement for Yankees fans. But after an embarrassing loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday put the team in a precarious position, the thought of playing one more game isn’t necessarily a good thing, just yet.

As late as Friday afternoon, the Yankees looked set to host a wildcard game on Tuesday. Now they face the possibility of tangling in a crazy four-way tie for the two American League jokers, who are set to be untangled on Monday.

In a scenario familiar to a team that continued all of their successes with failures, the Yankees put on an impressive 5-1 road trip and rose to the top spot in the wildcard standings, but were unable to wrap up the deal in their last three games. -series of games, at home. The Yankees needed two wins to secure a playoff berth for a fifth straight year and a field advantage in the wild card game.

Brandon Lowe hit three home runs and hit seven runs as Tampa Bay hit 100 regular season wins for the first time in franchise history. The Rays established themselves as the league’s elite team as the rest of AL East sought the two wildcard spots.

“Just a bad day for us, and we have to get over it quickly,” said Aaron Boone, Yankees manager.

Boone has uttered that phrase in one form or another on several occasions this season, and on some notable occasions the team has responded well. But Saturday’s loss, combined with wins for Boston, Toronto and Seattle, left the Yankees suddenly stumbling in danger of having to play an extra game just to earn a wild card spot. Just a few days ago, one of them already seemed within reach.

“The way this season has gone, it makes sense that this will be the very last day,” said outfielder Brett Gardner. “Sounds pretty much correct.”

The final day’s race begins around 3 p.m. EST for all 30 teams, and much of the plot belongs to the AL wild-card race. (In the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants could finish tied in the NL West, but the potential tie-breaker, a 163rd regular-season game, would still make the playoffs. as a wild card.)

In AL, the Yankees and Red Sox are tied with 91 wins each. Toronto and Seattle have 90.

If the Yankees beat the Rays on Sunday, they are sure to have one of two wild card positions. If a Yankees victory is combined with a Red Sox loss in Washington, the Yankees will face the winner of the second wild card at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night. If the Yankees and Red Sox both win on Sunday, Boston will welcome the Yankees to the wildcard game thanks to their 10-9 regular-season advantage over their rival.

On Sunday, the Yankees send out Jameson Taillon to pitch against Michael Wacha, while the Red Sox have left-handed ace Chris Sale against Nationals’ Joan Adon, who is making his major league debut. Advantage in Boston.

But Toronto and Seattle are still alive, and the craziest possibility is a four-way tie. For that to happen, the Yankees and Red Sox must lose, and the Blue Jays and Mariners must win. The four teams would then have 91 wins. Then there would be two tie-breaking games on Monday, with all four teams picking or receiving one of four designations to determine who plays who and where.

The most likely outcome in this situation would be for the Yankees to travel to Boston or Toronto to play a tie-breaker game on Monday.

It is also possible to have a three-way tie for the first or second joker. These rules are actually more complicated, require two days to complete, and would require postponing the AL wildcard game.

The easiest solution for the Yankees is to deal with their own win and then see where the rest of the teams land.

“We can obviously control our own destiny, in some way,” Gardner said.

The Yankees could have avoided all that uncertainty by winning on Friday or Saturday. Instead, Jordan Montgomery allowed seven runs in two and two-thirds innings on Saturday, keeping the Yankees joined with Boston and Toronto in a conga line of mediocrity.

Boston, reeling after being swept aside by the Yankees last weekend at Fenway Park, then lost two of three to the Orioles, baseball’s worst team, before recovering to win twice in Washington to tie the Yankees.

The Blue Jays, with their powerful young offense, have lost two of their three home games to the Yankees and five of their last eight before their final series with the Orioles in Toronto.

Only Seattle, the hottest team in baseball since mid-August, played with steadfast determination last month. But even the Mariners lost at home to the Angels on Friday night before beating Los Angeles, 6-4, on Saturday to set up a gripping final day.

The Rays, who set the best record in the American League, don’t play much until the playoffs start. Even so, they seemed superior.

“It’s a really good team there,” Gardner said of the Rays, “but a team that if we’re going to make the playoffs – and eventually get to where we want to go – a team that we’re going to have to beat. and cross.

Thanks to the Yankees’ bad timing, Sunday will be one hell of a day for baseball. Monday could be even better.


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