Tigers need a victory, help and a map

Detroit doesn't control WC destiny, may play 5 games in 5 days in 5 cities

Tigers need a victory, help and a map

ATLANTA -- Tigers manager Brad Ausmus held his postgame media session after Saturday night's 5-3 loss to the Braves like a husband watching a game on television while his wife is trying to talk to him from another room. He was listening, but his attention was diverted.

"Are you paying attention to us?" a reporter jokingly asked as Ausmus stared at the Blue Jays-Red Sox game on the TV in his office.

"I am," Ausmus answered. "I'm barely listening to you, actually."

Tigers' Wild Card hopes take hit in loss to Braves

This is what the Tigers' season comes down to. They no longer control their own fate, down 1 1/2 games to the Blue Jays and Orioles in the American League Wild Card race.

The Tigers need a win Sunday. Then they need help from the Yankees or Red Sox to beat the Orioles or Blue Jays. Then they need a map and some fuel, because their road to the playoffs just grew long.

A Tigers win and Blue Jays or Orioles loss wouldn't draw Detroit even in the Wild Card race. It would draw the Tigers within a half-game, close enough to make Thursday's rained-out game against the Indians mean something for their postseason hopes. So in that case, the Tigers would return home to make up that game Monday at 1:10 p.m. ET at Comerica Park.

A win in that game would draw the Tigers even. That would set in motion the tiebreaker scenario, anywhere from two to three teams, depending on Sunday's results.

If either the Blue Jays or Orioles lose Sunday, but not both, then the Tigers would play the loser in a head-to-head tiebreaker Tuesday in Toronto or Baltimore. The winner would then face the remaining Wild Card team Wednesday night. If it's the Tigers, they would travel to that game, too. That winner would then open the AL Division Series at Texas on Thursday.

That would be four must-win games in four days against four different opponents in four different cities.

If the Blue Jays and Orioles lose Sunday, and the Tigers win Sunday and Monday, that would spark a three-team tiebreaker for two spots. In that case, the teams would play two games determined by slots determined by regular-season meetings. The Tigers would face the Blue Jays on Tuesday in Toronto for the chance to get into the Wild Card Game. If they lost, they'd still have a chance to get in by facing the Orioles on Wednesday in Baltimore.

In other words, by hitting the road, the Tigers would get two chances to get in. The winners of those two games would meet on Thursday, a game the Tigers can't host based on losing records against the Jays and Orioles. The Wild Card Game winner would then face the Rangers in Texas on Friday.

For now, though, the Tigers are focusing on the short term.

"That's the scenario we have," Ausmus said.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.