The good news from last night’s game: the Jays won.
In a game in which winning was not a must, but very strongly suggested, Toronto snuck by the Red Sox 4-3 on Saturday night.
It wasn’t exactly encouraging. Facing a Boston starter with a strike zone the size of a double-wide garage door, they had only four hits. The bullpen was once again as steady as a paint-shaker. Closer Roberto Osuna balked in the tying run in the eighth – yes, balk, with a ‘b’.
But his Red Sox counterpart, Craig Kimbrel, went to pieces in the ninth, gifting Toronto the victory. Here’s to karma.
The bad news: With one regular season game remaining on Sunday, that doesn’t guarantee them a spot in the playoffs.
The really bad news: You’re going to have to think about all the different ways this can still play out. And it will hurt. Your head. A lot.
Are you sitting down? Please do. Because, legally, we could be in trouble if while reading this you are overcome by bafflement, enter a fugue state, topple over in your living room and crush the dog.
How bad is it?
After the game, a journalist asked Jays manager John Gibbons if another win guaranteed his team a wild-card game at home.
“I guess,” Gibbons said, sounding like he really was guessing.
People, we are paid to know this stuff and we don’t know. That’s how bad it is. So here’s a try. First, a summary of the wild-card standings.
If the Jays win on Sunday – all is well. Rest easy. The wild-card game will be played on Tuesday in Toronto – likely against Baltimore.
In every scenario here, the winner of the wild-card goes on to play the Texas Rangers.
But we’re about to do the ‘Jays lose’ scenarios. So sit down. Tell the dog to leave. Keep a bottle close – bourbon or Tylenol. Possibly both.
Jays loss/ Baltimore loss/Detroit loss – Toronto and Baltimore advance to the wild-card teams. Game is played Tuesday in Toronto.
Jays loss/Baltimore win/Detroit loss – Toronto and Baltimore advance to the wild-card. Game is played Tuesday in Baltimore.
Jays loss/Baltimore win/Detroit win – Baltimore advances to the wild card. Toronto must wait for the result of Monday’s game between Detroit/Cleveland.
If Detroit wins, Toronto and Detroit play on Tuesday in Detroit to see who becomes the second wild-card team. Wild card is bumped to Wednesday, to be played in Baltimore.
If Detroit loses, Toronto advances to Wednesday wild-card game.
Jays loss/Baltimore loss/Detroit win – This is where it gets goofy.
This scenario creates the possibility of a three-way tie for the wild card.
Detroit has a game to make up against Cleveland on Monday, but only if it has playoff implications. This would be that.
If Detroit loses that Monday game, Toronto and Baltimore are in the wild-card game, to be played Tuesday in Toronto.
If Detroit wins, a complicated tiebreaker is required.
In this scenario, confirmed by multiple reports and based on league record, Toronto has won the right to host a game on Tuesday against Detroit.
If Toronto wins, they are the first wild-card team. Detroit plays in Baltimore on Wednesday. The winner of that game is the second wild-card team.
The wild-card game is then played Thursday in Toronto. The winner of that game advances to the American League Divisional Series, which begins Friday in Arlington, Texas.
If Toronto loses the tiebreaker to Detroit, they go to Baltimore to play on Wednesday. If they win that game, they advance to a wild card against Detroit, which is still played in Toronto. And then on to Arlington.
This does not even consider Seattle, who were losing late on Saturday night at the time of this writing. If the Mariners have come back to win, this creates the possibility of a four-way tie.
There is not enough bourbon in the world to think of that one yet.
Bottom line: this only gets complicated if Toronto loses on Sunday.
Guess what that usually means?
Editor's note: An earlier digital version of this story incorrectly stated that the Blue Jays beat the Red Sox 4-3 on Sunday night; however, it was on Saturday night. This version has been updated.Report Typo/Error
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