10/01/10 2:00 AM ET
Postseason Picture: Oct. 1
By Mark Newman / MLB.com
The regular-season schedule ends Sunday, and there still is an outside chance at a tiebreaker or two. Here is the latest look at prospective matchups and scenarios:
American League: The idle Yankees caught up with the Rays and now both lead the AL at 94-65. The Yankees start an unpredictable three-game series at the rival Red Sox, and the Rays are at spoiler-savvy Kansas City for the last three. If the co-leaders finish with identical records on Sunday, Tampa Bay, by virtue of its 10-8 head-to-head record, will be division champion and host a Game 1 against Texas. The Yankees would open at Minnesota as the Wild Card.
The exact AL Division Series matchups will not be known until Saturday at the earliest, but what is known is that the Twins and the AL East champion will have home-field advantage in the first round.
National League: Padres at Giants is finally here. San Diego is now three games behind, so San Francisco needs only to win one of the three games to clinch the West.
San Diego lead the season series with the Giants, 10-5. The Padres could sweep the series and they would finish with identical 91-71 records. If that happens and Atlanta wins the Wild Card outright, then there would be a one-game tiebreaker for the West on Monday at PETCO Park. If the Padres can't sweep, their only hope would be the Wild Card.
Atlanta could remove that hope right away, though. The Braves start a three-game series against the Phillies, who have clinched home-field advantage through the World Series. The Braves are two games ahead of the Padres in the Wild Card race, so if the former wins and the latter loses on Friday, that would be a three-game lead with two games left, thus eliminating San Diego from Wild Card contention.
But if the Padres win two of three and the Braves are swept, the teams would play in Atlanta on Monday for the Wild Card.
How the Wild Card could come from the West: If the Padres sweep the Giants and the Phillies sweep the Braves, then Atlanta's final record would be 90-72 -- a game behind San Diego and San Francisco. Atlanta would be eliminated on Bobby Cox's last day as a manager. That means no tiebreaker game would be needed, and by virtue of its head-to-head tiebreaker edge, the Padres would be division champs and the Giants the Wild Card.
If a West team wins the Wild Card, it opens at Philadelphia on Wednesday.
If Atlanta is the Wild Card and Cincinnati ends up with the same record as San Francisco or San Diego: The Braves would open Oct. 7 at either AT&T Park or PETCO Park. The Giants and Padres both won their season series against the Reds, so either of those NL West clubs would win that tiebreaker. The Reds would open Wednesday at Philadelphia.
If either the Giants or Padres win the West and the other team finishes tied with the Braves for the Wild Card: Those two clubs (not the West champ) would play a one-game tiebreaker, hosted by Atlanta no matter whether it be against San Francisco or San Diego.
What if the Giants, Padres and Braves all finish tied? First it would be Giants at Padres on Monday, with the winner being declared the division champion. Then a day later, the losing team would play in Atlanta to decide the Wild Card. Head-to-head is the first tiebreaker criteria, replacing coin flips, in this scenario to determine tiebreaker site.
Postseason starting times: All four Division Series and the AL Championship Series (starting Oct. 15) will be televised by TBS. The NL Championship Series (starting Oct. 16) and World Series (starting Oct. 27) will be televised by FOX. MLB on Thursday announced World Series start times, but times are TBA for earlier rounds.
Today's key games to watch
Yankees (Pettitte, 11-3) at Red Sox (Matsuzaka, 9-6), 7:10 p.m. ET Preview>
Phillies (Kendrick, 10-10) at Braves (Beachy, 0-1), 7:35 p.m. Preview>
Rays (Shields, 13-14) at Royals (Chen, 11-7), 8:10 p.m. Preview>
Padres (Richard, 13-9) at Giants (Cain, 13-10), 10:15 p.m. Preview>
If the postseason started today ...
Rangers (3) at Rays (1)
Yankees (Wild Card) at Twins (2)
Reds (3) at Phillies (1)
Braves (Wild Card) at Giants (2)
Leaders and contenders
Rays: L, 3-2 @ KC
Tied, clinched postseason berth | Next: @ KC
Tied, clinched postseason berth | Next: @ BOS
Twins: L, 13-2 vs. TOR
CLINCHED | Next: vs. TOR
Rangers: W, 3-2 vs. LAA
CLINCHED | Next: vs. LAA AL Wild Card
Yankees and Rays tied
NATIONAL LEAGUENL East
CLINCHED | Next: Friday @ ATL NL Central
Reds: W, 9-1 vs. HOU
CLINCHED | Next: vs. MIL NL West
Giants: W, 4-1 vs. ARI
Lead: 3 over SD | Next: vs. SD NL Wild Card
Lead: 2 over SD | Next: vs. PHI Top NL contenders
Padres: L, 1-0 vs. CHC
Deficit: 3 behind SF in West, 2 behind ATL in Wild Card | Next: @ SF