Where Red Sox stand in Wild Card race heading into last week of regular season

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)

Where Red Sox stand in Wild Card race heading into final stretch of regular season

Following a three-game sweep of the lowly Orioles at Fenway Park over the weekend, the Red Sox find themselves in an encouraging spot heading into the home stretch of the 2021 regular season.

Having won five straight and seven of their last 10 games, the Sox have improved to 86-65 on the year and currently hold a one-game lead over the Blue Jays (84-65) for the top American League Wild Card spot.

So, if the season were to have ended on Sunday night, Boston would be hosting Toronto in a one-game playoff come October 5. But the season did not end on Sunday, as the Red Sox still have 11 games remaining on the docket.

Of those 11 games, the next five will take place at home with the Mets coming into town for a two-game interleague series that begins on Tuesday and the Yankees visiting for a three-game weekend set that begins on Friday.

Following the conclusion of next weekend’s series with New York, the Sox will embark upon a six-game road trip that includes stops in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. to close out the season.

With that being said, strength of schedule plays into Boston’s favor here. Of the four teams they will be playing over the next two weeks, only the Yankees (83-67) have a winning record — though none of the four teams would have qualified for the postseason if the regular season had ended on Sunday.

According to Tankathon.com, the Red Sox have the third-easiest schedule in baseball and the easiest schedule in the American League the rest of the way, as the four clubs they will be facing off against have a combined winning percentage of .437. Only the Phillies (.407) and Reds (.419) have easier remaining schedules.

As of Monday morning, FanGraphs gives the Sox an 89.7% chance to make the playoffs, which is up dramatically from where it was at this time one week ago (63.2%).

Baseball-Reference, on the other hand, currently gives the Red Sox an 85.9% chance to make the playoffs after giving them a 71.4% chance just last week.

Of the five teams competing for the two American League Wild Card spots, the Sox are the only club that is off on Monday. The Blue Jays will be opening up a three-game series against the division-leading Rays at Tropicana Field, the Yankees will be opening up a three-game series against the lowly Rangers in the Bronx, and the Athletics and Mariners commence a pivotal four-game series in Oakland.

Taking all that into consideration, the Red Sox at best can carry with them a 1 1/2 game lead over the Jays for the top Wild Card spot coming into play on Tuesday. At worst, it could be just a 1/2 game lead.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo, Enrique Hernandez, and Hunter Renfroe: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Even After Tough Loss, Red Sox Stars Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers Remain Optimistic

In what appeared to be a soul-crushing 9-7 loss to the Yankees on Sunday night, the Red Sox might actually have some positives to take away from a rather disappointing weekend in the Bronx.

Despite blowing a late lead to close out the weekend, Boston enjoyed some decent success on the offensive side of the ball, especially from the likes of Christian Vazquez, Rafael Devers, and Xander Bogaerts. The trio combined to go 7-for-13 at the plate with three home runs, six RBI, and 17 total bases between them on Sunday.

It may not have been enough for the Sox to avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of their division rivals, but it could be a sign of better things to come.

“We fought back, man,” Bogaerts said via Zoom in regards to his team’s effort-level on Sunday. “This is one of the games we can take a lot of positives out. Haven’t been (many) games like this. It sucks that we lost but it was pretty fun, honestly. Back-and-forth, back-and-forth. … This game was a nice fight from us.”

Already a sixth of the way through this truncated season, the Red Sox are 3-7, good for last place in the American League East, and are getting outscored by more than one run per game.

That being said, Sunday’s loss to the first-place Yankees offered a glimpse of hope for Boston, according to Bogaerts.

“Coming into today, the energy level was different before the game,” the two-time All-Star added. “Me and (Christian) Vazquez and (Rafael) Devers were talking about that. I don’t know why. But it was just different.”

Speaking of Devers, the 23-year-old echoed the same sentiment Bogaerts did in his postgame Zoom call with reporters Sunday night, saying that, “It was fun out there. I came out there today just a bit more motivated. There was an extra fire from all of us, not just myself. We just continue to just play hard and try to get the results we wanted, but obviously we just couldn’t get it today.”

After their first off day of the season on Monday, the Red Sox will open up a two-game series against the Rays at Tropicana Field beginning on Tuesday night. Perhaps some of that optimism shared by Bogaerts and Devers can carry over to the rest of the team during the final leg of this seven-game road trip.