For a 10th consecutive season, a wild-card race will be decided on the final day of the regular season.
For Cleveland, the scenario on Sunday is simple: win and they’re in.
For Tampa Bay and Texas, it’s lose and you’re out. Or maybe not.
Three teams are vying for two wild-card berths in the American League on the last day of the regular season.
The Indians, with 91 wins compared with 68 last season, hold a one-game edge over the Rays and Rangers.
A win over the Minnesota Twins qualifies them automatically for Wednesday’s American League wild-card game, and a first playoff berth since 2007. But a loss could drop the Indians into a three-way tie with the Rays and Rangers, if both those clubs get victories over the Blue Jays and Angels, respectively.
The Rays had the one-game advantage going into the weekend series, but they lost both games while the Indians and Rangers won theirs.
A three-way tie would leave Tampa Bay playing in Cleveland on Monday, the winner advancing to the wild-card game on Wednesday. The loser would play in Texas on Tuesday for the remaining spot. The playoff game could be a rematch of Monday’s game.
If the Indians qualify Sunday, Tampa Bay would travel to Texas for a one-game tie-breaker on Monday.
"We need to be one run better tomorrow and then we go from there,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona told reporters.
Texas lost 13 of 16 games earlier this month, sparking rumours of manager Ron Washington’s demise. The Rangers rallied in the past two weeks as have the Rays, who lost 13 of 17 and rebounded with a seven-game win streak before reaching Toronto.
At 1:07 p.m. ET in Toronto, Tampa Bay will face Jays right-hander Todd Redmond (4-2). His family held Rays season tickets while he grew up in St. Petersburg, Fla. Lefty Matt Moore (16-4) goes for Tampa Bay.
At 2:10 p.m. in Minneapolis, Cleveland sends Ubaldo Jiminez (12-9) against Canadian lefty Scott Diamond (6-12) of Guelph, Ont. Diamond’s had a rough time down the stretch, with a 1-6 record and 5.91 ERA in the past 10 games. He’s allowed four earned runs, or more, in five of the past eight outings.
At 3:05 p.m. in Arlington, ace Yu Darvish (13-9) pitches for the Rangers, against the Angels’ lefty Jason Vargas (9-7), who is coming off a four-hit shutout against Oakland. Darvish has a major league leading 269 strikeouts, and the Rangers have a 14-4 record against the Angels this season .
“I feel like we've been playing Game 7 for the last week,” said Rangers closer Joe Nathan.