Following an off day on Monday, the Red Sox (88-68) come into play Tuesday trailing the Yankees (89-67) by one game for the top American League Wild Card spot after getting swept in a three-game series by their division rivals over the weekend.
If the regular season were to have ended on Monday night, the Yankees would be hosting the Sox in the Wild Card Game in the Bronx exactly one week from Tuesday.
But the season did not end on Monday, as both clubs each have six games remaining on their respective schedules between now and Sunday. Both Boston and New York also have two other teams hot on their trails, with the Blue Jays (87-69) currently one game and the Mariners (87-70) currently 1 1/2 games behind the Sox.
The Mariners gained a half-game on the competition in front of them on Monday when they trounced the Athletics by a final score of 13-4 at T-Mobile Park, thus dropping the A’s to 85-72 and putting 3 1/2 games back of the Red Sox to kick off a pivotal three-game set.
While Seattle and Oakland both have five games left this season, all three of New York, Boston, and Toronto have six contests — with the Yankees and Blue Jays set to open yet another crucial three-game series at Rogers Centre on Tuesday night.
According to FanGraphs, the Red Sox have an 86% chance to make the postseason, which edges out the Yankees (81%), Blue Jays (27.5%), Mariners (5.5%), and Athletics (0.1%).
Baseball-Reference, meanwhile, gives the Sox a 74.8% chance to reach the playoffs, which ranks tops among the four other clubs they are competing with despite their odds decreasing by 15.2% over the last seven days.
Of the five teams remaining in the Wild Card hunt, Boston has the easiest schedule over the final week of the regular season, per Tankathon.com. That being the case because they will be playing both the lowly Orioles (50-106) and Nationals (65-92) on the road to close out the year.
Taking all that into consideration, there are several scenarios to keep in mind once play begins on Tuesday. Here they are:
If the Red Sox win and the Yankees lose/Blue Jays win: Boston and New York would be tied atop the Wild Card standings, while Toronto would trail both teams by just one game.
If the Red Sox win and the Yankees win/Blue Jays lose: Boston would still trail New York by one full game for the top Wild Card spot, though they would gain an additional game over Toronto for the second Wild Card spot.
If the Red Sox lose and the Yankees lose/Blue Jays win: Boston would still trail New York by one full game for the top Wild Card spot, though they would now be tied with Toronto for possession of the second spot.
If the Red Sox lose and the Yankees win/Blue Jays lose: Boston would now trail New York by two games for the top Wild Card spot, though they would maintain their one-game lead over Toronto for the second spot.
So, at best, the Red Sox can move back into a tie with the Yankees for the top American League Wild Card spot on Tuesday. At worst, they can fall into a tie with the Blue Jays for the second Wild Card spot.
(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)