With just one game left in the regular season for American League teams, the Tigers are still the only AL team to have clinched their division, and the only team that can be sure of where and when they will play their first playoff game in 2012.
The Tigers will open at home as the third seed and will host the second seed, which will be the winner of the either the East or the West division on Saturday and Sunday, October 6 and 7. What they don't know is who their opponents will be, and where they will be traveling for games 3, 4, and 5 of the league division series on October 9, 10, and 11, if necessary.
If the New York Yankees beat Boston at Yankee stadium, it gets much simpler, as the Tigers would play the winner of the Rangers and Oakland, who would be the west division champions. The Yankees would grab the top seed and play the wild card winner in the league division series.
Entering the final day of play, the Yankees lead the Baltimore Orioles by one game. If the Orioles win at Tampa Bay and the Yankees lose to Boston, the Yankees will play a tie breaker in Baltimore on Thursday to determine the winner of the east division.
There is some discussion and disagreement about whether that game 163 would then give the AL East winner 95 wins, and the top overall seed. Jason Beck says yes, but he sounds unsure. Tony Paul tweeted agreement. John Lowe of the Free press says no. Chris Iott agreed that game 163 only breaks the division tie, and the formula is used to determine the overall seed between the winner of the tie breaker and the winner of the AL west. I believe the latter is correct.
In the west, the Oakland A's defeated the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night to pull even after 161 games. Texas plays at Oakland on Wednesday with the winner crowned as division champions and the loser playing the east runner up in the wild card showdown on Friday.
UPDATE: Jason Beck has updated his blog and Tony Paul has tweeted agreement that game 163 only breaks the tie within division. So the scenarios below are correct.
Yankees win; Tigers play the AL West winner, Yankees play the Wild card winner (Baltimore at west runner up)
Yankees lose, Baltimore loses, Oakland wins: Tigers play New York, Oakland plays wild card (Baltimore at Texas)
Yankees lose, Baltimore loses, Texas wins; Tigers play Texas, New York plays wild card (Baltimore at Oakland)
Yankees lose, Orioles win, Oakland wins; Tigers play the winner of Thursday's game 163 tiebreaker, Yankees at Baltimore.
(but see above comment if game 163 gives tiebreaker win another win)
Yankees lose, Orioles win, Texas wins: Tigers play Baltimore if Orioles win Tiebreaker.
(I think). Tigers play Texas if Yankees win tiebreaker. (for sure)
Tiebreakers: Oakland holds the tiebreaker over New York or Baltimore. New York holds the tiebreaker over Texas. Texas holds the tiebreaker over Baltimore. The tiebreaking formula is only used to determine home field advantage, and never to determine the winner of a division.
In the National league: The St Louis Cardinals lost to the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night, leaving the door open for the Los Angeles Dodgers to pull within a game of St Louis for the final wild card berth, but the Dodgers lost to their rival San Francisco Giants and were eliminated.
The Atlanta Braves will host the Cardinals on Friday in the National League's wild card showdown. The winner of that game will play the top seeded team in the league. If the Washington Nationals beat the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday, they will be the top seed, and the Reds will be the second seed. If the Nats lose and the Reds beat the Cardinals, Cincinnati will be the top seed. The Giants will be the third seed regardless of Wednesday's results.