Wild Card berths within reach for Orioles, Mets, Giants; Four others remain in contention
By Andrew Simon
Six teams already have won their divisions and stamped tickets to the Division Series, but the four spots in the American League and National League Wild Card Games remain up for grabs.
That could change today, when the Orioles, Mets and Giants all have opportunities to clinch postseason berths outright. Home-field advantage also hangs in the balance for some playoff matchups, so there is plenty to watch over the final two days of the regular season. Accordingly, every game this weekend can be streamed free on MLB.TV (blackout restrictions apply).
After the Orioles lost their series opener in Toronto on Tuesday, they sat two games behind the Blue Jays for the top AL Wild Card spot. Since then, that race has flipped, with the O's taking the final two games at Rogers Centre, then cracking three fifth-inning home runs in an 8-1 victory at Yankee Stadium on Friday night. Meanwhile, the Jays lost their third in a row, falling 5-3 at Fenway Park on David Ortiz's go-ahead two-run homer.
Baltimore now has a one-game lead on Toronto for the top Wild Card position and is 1 1/2 up on Detroit and two up on Seattle. If the Orioles win today, and either the Jays or Tigers lose, they will clinch a postseason berth. If the O's win and both of those clubs lose, they would then be guaranteed to host the Wild Card Game at Camden Yards.
On the other hand, should Toronto pull even in the standings, it would have the edge because by winning the teams' season series, it owns the tiebreaker if they finish deadlocked for the two Wild Card spots.
Meanwhile, the Tigers got two homers from Miguel Cabrera and picked up a 6-2 win at Atlanta on Friday. A half-game behind the Jays, they now control their own destiny. If Detroit ends Sunday within a half-game of a Wild Card spot, it would make up Thursday's rainout with Cleveland on Monday at Comerica Park at 1 p.m. ET to determine what happens next.
The Mariners also stayed alive on Thursday, beating Oakland at Safeco Field for the second straight night. If Seattle can win two more, and Toronto and Detroit both lose at least once, the M's will, at minimum, get into a tiebreaker game for a Wild Card berth.
National League Wild Card
The Mets' 5-1 win at Philadelphia on Friday guaranteed them, at worst, a tiebreaker game against the Cardinals. However, New York enters today with a magic number of one for an outright Wild Card berth; one more win or one more St. Louis loss will get the job done. The Mets also could lock up home-field advantage in the NL Wild Card Game with two more wins, or one win plus a loss from both the Giants and Cardinals.
The other two contenders also won on Friday, the Cardinals blanking the Pirates, 7-0, and the Giants pounding the Dodgers, 9-3. San Francisco, a game behind New York and a game ahead of St. Louis, needs both a win and a Redbirds loss today to clinch a spot in the postseason. One of those outcomes would guarantee the Giants at least a tiebreaker game, although the Cards would host such a contest at Busch Stadium.
American League home-field advantage
By earning a 3-1 win over the Rays on Friday, the Rangers locked up the AL's No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout their postseason run. That includes a potential World Series appearance, since the AL won the All-Star Game in July.
With Texas now set to face the winner of the AL Wild Card game, that means the Red Sox and Indians will meet in the other AL Division Series. Cleveland also won on Friday, 7-2 at Kansas City, and remains a half-game behind Boston, which also owns the tiebreaker. Should Sunday end with the Tribe a half-game in front of the Sox, it then would play Monday's makeup game at Detroit, with ALDS home field on the line.
National League home-field advantage
The Cubs, who won their 102nd game on Friday at Cincinnati, already had home-field advantage through the NLCS.
The Dodgers' loss at San Francisco meant they didn't gain ground on the Nationals, who fell to the Marlins, 7-4, earlier in the evening. Washington remains two games ahead in the race for home field in their NLDS, and while L.A. has the tiebreaker, one more Nats win or Dodgers loss would put Game 1 of the series in D.C.
If the postseason began today …
Wild Card: Blue Jays at Orioles
Division Series: Wild Card at Rangers, Indians at Red Sox
Wild Card: Giants at Mets
Division Series: Wild Card at Cubs, Dodgers at Nationals
2016 POSTSEASON SCHEDULE
AL Wild Card Game: Oct. 4
NL Wild Card Game: Oct. 5
AL Division Series begins: Oct. 6
NL Division Series begins: Oct. 7
AL Championship Series begins: Oct. 14
NL Championship Series begins: Oct. 15
World Series begins: Oct. 25
Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.