All of the games in Major League Baseball are scheduled for 3 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, so that if and when playoff races come down to Game 162, nobody has an advantage of taking the field already knowing what their pennant race rivals have done.
Saturday’s schedule, to set up Sunday, is staggered, which means that it’ll be a whole day of watching things unfold in the American League Wild Card and National League West races.
Friday night, the Yankees and Mariners lost, while the Red Sox and Blue Jays won, so with two games left it’s New York with 91 wins, Boston with 90, and Seattle and Toronto with 89.
The Yankees get Saturday’s slate going at 1 p.m. Eastern against the East champion Rays, who will face the Wild Card winner in the ALDS, and thus have a vested interest in making the path to that series as complicated and as taxing as possible, while Tampa Bay gets to rest up. Shane Baz against Jordan Montgomery is a pretty good pitching matchup to start the day, too.
At 3 p.m., it’s Toronto hosting Baltimore, with the Blue Jays knowing that if the Yankees beat the Rays, their only chance is to catch the Red Sox, whose game in Washington starts at 4 p.m. The Mariners will watch all this unfold and know what their situation is when Chris Flexen takes the mound against the Angels at 9 p.m.
Meanwhile, in the race that will decide who has the best record in the majors and who will put a triple digit-win season on the line in a one-game Wild Card, the Giants can clinch their first division title since 2012 if they beat the Padres in a 4 p.m. game. If not, a Dodgers’ loss to the Brewers, who are locked into facing Atlanta in the NLDS, completes the Senior Circuit’s playoff picture, with St. Louis to visit L.A. for the right to face the Giants.
It’s good that, the way it works out, the Giants get a chance to clinch for themselves, rather than rooting for a Dodgers loss to finish the division race. It could still wind up that way, of course, but at least San Francisco gets the opportunity to do it.
Same for the Yankees, who are guaranteed at least a tiebreaker game already. If New York drops a second straight to Tampa Bay, the Bronx Bombers can go into Sunday assured of a trip to the playoffs if both Toronto and Seattle lose.
And if those teams lose and Boston wins, then it’s Yankees-Red Sox in the Wild Card, and that would make up for Sunday being nothing more than bookkeeping to put a lid on the season.