One Day Left… And Texas & Tampa Bay are tied

Posted: 09/28/2013 by levcohen in Baseball

Going into this weekend, the Rays were two games clear of the Rangers and had what looked like an easier match-up against the Blue Jays (they were 10-6 against Toronto), while the Rangers had to go against the rival Angels, who disappointed this year but were streaking and have a very talented roster. Things have definitely changed. The Rangers have beaten the Angels twice in a row while the Rays have suddenly slumped and lost by a combined eight runs yesterday and today against the last place Blue Jays, who actually had the incentive to lose (by winning these two games, they may well have knocked themselves out of a top 10 pick in the draft, which is huge, because the top 10 don’t need to give their first round draft picks as FA compensation (they give their second instead) while everyone else does).

So, with one day left, this is the way the standings are looking:

Cleveland Indians: 91-70.. play @MIN at 2:10 EST.. pitcher: Ubaldo Jimenez (12-9, 3.38)
Tampa Bay Rays: 90-71.. play @TOR at 1:05 EST.. pitcher: Matt Moore (16-4, 3.23)
Texas Rangers: 90-71.. play vs LAA at 3:05 EST.. pitcher: Yu Darvish (13-9, 2.82)

So all three will be playing fairly poor teams with good pitchers on the mound. I think, given how the Indians have played against overmatched opponents, it is safe to say that the Indians will win. It is also likely that both the Rays and Rangers will also win, which would set up a one game playoff for the right to play the Indians in the real one day playoff. Think that seems hectic? Well, think about what would happen if the Indians were to lose and the other two were to win. There would then be a three team tie, and Major League Baseball has only just announced how they would handle such an occurrence. Much like if two teams tied, there would be just one extra tie-breaking game added to the slate, but this one is different, as the teams basically got to decide when and who they would play.
The games would be as followed: One game on Monday, and then a game between the loser of the Monday game and the third team, with the third team at home. Since the Indians had the best record against the other two teams, they got to choose first, and they picked to play at home on Monday. That way, even if they were to lose a home game, they’d be given another shot. The Rays, with the second best h2h record, picked  to be on the road Monday, so they essentially picked two road games over one home game. The Rangers were stuck with single elimination.

That is all very exciting and all, but I don’t think we’ll be seeing it, because Jimenez and the Indians have been on a role lately. Really on a role. Since the all-star break, Jimenez has a 1.86 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 77 and 1/3 innings. In September, he’s been ever better, with an incredible 1.04 September ERA. And the Indians have won nine in a row and are dominant against bad teams.

What do I think will happen? Well, if I had to bet on it, I’d say that the Indians will finish with home-field advantage in the one game playoff. I do think there will be a Rays-Rangers tiebreaker because I can’t see Yu Darvish losing at home or the Rays getting swept by the Blue Jays at this point in the season. And if there is a tiebreak, I’d take the Rays over the Rangers, knowing that the non-Moore Rays pitching options are a heck of a lot better than the non-Darvish Rangers pitching options.

So, when all the dust is settled, I think will still be facing the same match-up that we thought was inevitable a few days ago: Rays against Indians. But the Rangers sure have put up a fight. I just hope for their sake that it isn’t too little, too late.

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