Rays would have edge over Angels, Red Sox in three-way tie
The Tampa Bay Rays would have a slight edge over the Angels and the Boston Red Sox if the three teams, separated by 2 1/2 games in the standings entering play Thursday, finish in a three-way tie for the American League wild-card spot.
Under baseball's intricate tie-breaking formula, if three clubs tie for a division title or wild card with identical winning percentages, the tie is broken by designating the clubs as "A," "B" and "C," with selection of those designations based on the clubs' records against one another, and playing tie-breaking games as follows:
Club A would host Club B on Thursday, Sept. 29. The winner of the A/B game would then host Club C on a date to be determined, most likely on Friday, Sept. 30. The winner of the A/B-vs.-C game would be declared the division champion or wild-card winner.
The Rays are a combined 16-10 against the Red Sox and Angels, so they would choose whether they wanted to be team A, B or C. The Red Sox are a combined 12-14 against the Rays and Angels, so they would get the second pick, and the Angels are a combined 6-10 against the Red Sox and Rays, so they would get the third pick.
It would seem logical that the Rays would choose to be team C; that way, they would only have to win one game against the Red Sox/Angels winner to gain the wild card. However, by choosing to be team C, they would give up home-field advantage for that one game.
Such a scenario could create a bizarre four-day travel odyssey for the Angels, who close the regular season against the Rangers in Anaheim next Wednesday night. They could travel to Boston to play the Red Sox on Thursday and, if they win, return to Anaheim to play the Rays on Friday. If they win that game, they would fly to New York to open the division series against the Yankees on Saturday.
A two-team tie for the wild card would force a one-game playoff on Thursday, Sept. 29, with home field determined by head-to-head records. The Red Sox won the season series against the Angels, 6-2, so they would have home field for a one-game playoff.
Because the Rays and Angels tied their season series, 4-4, home field would go to the team with the better intra-division record. Tampa Bay (36-29 vs. AL East) currently holds that edge over the Angels (26-25 vs. AL West). Since the teams have identical 85-70 records today and close the season against division opponents, the Rays would have home-field advantage over the Angels in a one-game playoff.
-- Mike DiGiovanna
Photo: Vernon Wells. Credit: Nick Wass / Associated Press.