As the Oakland A's Grant Balfour struck out Mike Moreland of the Texas Rangers to seal the A's 4- 3 victory in Oakland Monday night, Oakland clinched a most improbable playoff berth. At the same time, the Los Angeles Angels and Tampa Bay Rays were eliminated from playoff contention.
Oakland's win finished out the field for the American League's playoff bracket, but only one team, the Detroit Tigers has clinched a division title, and only one team knows when and where they will be playing their next game when the regular season is over.
The Tigers will open the playoffs at home on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 6, and 7 as the third seed in the American League. They will host the winners of either the East or West division for the first two games of the ALDS, while the winners of the Wild Card showdown will host the division winner with the league's best record.
Detroit will be off on Oct. 8, then will play games 3, 4, and 5, if necessary, away from home on October 9-11.
After Monday's action and with each team having just two games to play, the New York Yankees and the Texas Rangers share the league's best record at 93-67. But neither team has clinched their division. The Yankees hold a one-game edge over the Baltimore Orioles, while the Rangers hold a one-game lead over the A's.
Here is a tie breaker chart that shows the tie breakers among the four clubs that might finish the season winning or tied for a division lead or a wild card berth.
American League Tiebreaker Chart
Here is how things will be decided over the next two days to determine the playoff match ups.
- If there is a tie for any division lead, there will be a game 163 tie breaker to be played on Thursday to choose a division winner. This can now only happen between Baltimore and New York in the East, and the Orioles would host game 163.
- If there is a tie among two teams for the league's best record, the tie breaker formula will be used to determine seeding
- If there is a tie between two teams in the Wild Card places, the tie breaker formula will be used to determine home field
In a nutshell, the Yankees hold the tie breaker over the Rangers with a 4-3 head to head record. Oakland holds the tie breaker over the Orioles with a 5-4 head to head record. The Orioles would host a tie breaker for the East Division. There can not be a tie for the West Division, since the A's trail Texas by one game and the two teams will play each other twice.
Should the Yankees and A's find themselves in a tie, Oakland holds the tie breaker with a better second half record against American League teams. If the Orioles and Rangers finish in a tie, the Rangers won five of the seven games between the two clubs.
There can be no three way ties any longer, since three of the five remaining teams will be division winners.