NEW YORK — The Orioles absolutely, positively control their own destiny with two games to play in the regular season. There are still a bunch of scenarios floating around depending on what four different teams, including the Orioles, do this weekend.
And, frankly, I’m not bright or patient enough to present all of them. So how about I just try to answer the basic questions?
If I’m an Orioles fan, what is the best-case scenario to root for?
This one is easy. If the Orioles win this afternoon (4:05 p.m.) at Yankee Stadium and the Toronto Blue Jays lose tonight (7:10) at Fenway Park, the Orioles are the first AL Wild Card winner and host the wild-card playoff this week.
In that scenario, it doesn’t matter what the Detroit Tigers do because the Orioles hold the tiebreaker with them, so even if the Tigers run the table with their three remaining games (two more at Atlanta and then a makeup game versus Cleveland on Monday, if necessary), they’d be heading to Baltimore for the Wild Card playoff.
When will the Wild Card game be?
It’s scheduled for Tuesday, but the Tigers remaining in contention could alter that, because of their potential make-up game that could be played Monday. Also a second Wild Card tiebreaker among several teams could push the Wild Card game to either Tuesday or Wednesday. And, yes, Thursday’s not out of the equation based on some funky things that could happen.
Can the Orioles lose both in New York and still make the playoffs?
Yes. But the Tigers and Mariners would actually have to lose at least one game. The Jays also can create that favor for the Orioles by losing both. The Jays can back in as well in that scenario if they win two and the other teams lose out. There are actually myriad scenarios in which the Orioles and Jays back in.
Is it possible the Orioles might have to go Toronto for the Wild Card playoff?
Yes, if the Orioles lose both and the Jays win one or the Jays win both remaining games and the Orioles lose one. Then Toronto would own the Wild Card top spot (if the Tigers don’t win out, for instance).
Is there a scenario in which the Orioles season ends Sunday?
Yep. If the Orioles lose both, and the Blue Jays and Tigers win their remaining games, then the Orioles are eliminated from the playoff race without playing another game after Sunday. The Mariners could force a play-in game against the Orioles in Seattle if they win out and Toronto or Detroit bow out. This race is so crazy that if the Mariners win out and the Orioles, Tigers and Blue Jays all lose out, Seattle could host the Wild Card game, but they also could be eliminated with a loss tonight and a win by Toronto.
Got all that? I just want to add one more thing. I’m a simple caveman sportswriter. There’s a 50-50 chance I got one of these scenarios wrong or left out something important. You’ve been warned.