Tomase: With one game left, here are Red Sox' paths to playoffs


Welcome to the final day of the baseball season. The Red Sox own two paths to the playoffs, and by about 7 p.m. tonight, we should know whether they're taking the easy way or the hard way.

Pretty much every scenario remains on the table, but this much we know: The two AL wild card teams will be some combination of the Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays, and Mariners.

The Red Sox and Yankees are tied at 91-71, with the Jays and Mariners each a game back at 90-70. Everyone plays at 3:05 p.m. ET, give or take. The Red Sox visit Washington, while the Yankees host the Rays, the Jays host the Orioles, and the Mariners host the Angels.

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Let's break down the scenarios involving the Red Sox, who are in the driver's seat, at least for now.

1. Red Sox and Yankees win

This is the most straightforward result. If New York and Boston win, the Red Sox will host the Yankees in the wild card game on Tuesday by virtue of winning the season series, 10-9. The Red Sox win every permutation of tie-breaker by virtue of winning their season series against the other three contenders.

2. Other three teams lose

Same as above. Red Sox win the wild card outright regardless of their result on Sunday, and New York finishes second. See you in Boston on Tuesday.


3. Red Sox win, Yankees lose, one other team wins

The Red Sox win the wild card and the remaining two teams play on Monday for the right to come to Boston.

4. Red Sox lose, Yankees win, one other team wins

The Yankees win the wild card and the Red Sox host either the Jays or Mariners on Monday in Game 163 to determine who heads to the Bronx on Tuesday.

5. Red Sox lose, everyone else wins

The Yankees win the wild card and there's a three-way tie for second, necessitating a pair of play-in games. Teams would be designated as A, B, and C. Team A would host Team B on Monday, with the winner hosting Team C on Tuesday.

Because the Red Sox win all tie-breakers, they'd get to choose, and they'd likely go with C, since it requires only one win to advance, albeit on the road. The wild card game would be played on Wednesday.

We should note that if the Red Sox win and the other three teams finish tied, this scenario would play out amongst those teams for the second wild card, with the Red Sox hosting the winner on Wednesday.

6. Red Sox lose, Yankees lose, one other team wins

The nightmare scenario. In this case, three teams would tie for two wild card spots, triggering a pair of tie-breakers on Monday and Tuesday.

Using the A, B, C designations again, the Red Sox would choose to be Team A and host Team B on Monday. The winner claims the first wild card, while the loser visits Team B on Tuesday for the second spot. If the Blue Jays get in, they'd have the option of being Team B, while the Yankees would get that choice if the Mariners are the third team.

In this hypothetical, the Red Sox could play in Washington on Sunday, Boston on Monday, Seattle or Toronto on Tuesday, New York in the wild card game on Wednesday, and then Tampa Bay to open the Division Series on Thursday.

Needless to say, they want no part of this.

7. Red Sox and Yankees lose, other two win

An unprecedented four-way tie! This one would actually be pretty easy to break. The clubs would be labeled A, B, C, and D, with A hosting B and C hosting D on Monday. The Red Sox would choose to be Team A and the Blue Jays would be Team C, giving both home games. The Yankees would then decide where they'd rather go, with Seattle getting what's left.


The two winners would square off on Tuesday in the wild card game. If the Red Sox remain alive, the game would be at Fenway.