Mariners Playoff Scenarios: Seattle needs win and help Sunday to advance
(NOTE, this story has been updated as of Sunday morning, following the Mariners’ 6-4 win over the Angels Saturday night as well as MLB officially releasing what will occur in every scenario.)
The Mariners are now just a game back as they enter the final game of the season and their path forward is more clear after beating the Angels 6-4 Saturday night.
With the win, the Mariners kept pace with the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays, who each won Saturday, while the New York Yankees lost to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Entering the final game of the season, Boston and New York are tied at 91-70 while Seattle and Toronto are tied at 90-71.
The Red Sox winning Saturday ensured that the Mariners, at best, can force at least a game 163 rather than advancing straight to the wild card game, even with a win and some help on Sunday.
So for the Mariners to advance beyond Sunday, they must win and get some help, and there are multiple paths forward. All of them involve at least one of Boston or New York losing on Sunday.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get to it with what will officially happen in every scenario, per MLB.
Four-way tie (one possibility)
The Mariners’ win on Saturday keeps open the possibility of all four teams being tied after 162 games. That would create a scenario where there would be two play-in games for the right to go to the actual wild card game.
How can that happen?
That scenario is relatively easy. That means the Mariners would need to win Sunday and have both Boston and New York lose on Sunday. In this situation, the Blue Jays would also win on Sunday.
Should this happen, the Mariners would travel north of the border to Toronto while the Yankees would head to Boston. The winners of those two games would then face off, and the home teams would be determined by head-to-head records. Should the Mariners advance in this scenario, they’d be on the road no matter what in either Boston or New York.
Three-way tie (three possibilities)
Again, the Mariners must win on Sunday for this to occur. And there are three scenarios to make it happen.
First, if Seattle wins and one of Boston or New York loses and the Blue Jays win. There are two scenarios at play here.
Let’s start with should the Yankees lose to the defending AL champion Tampa Bay Rays and the Red Sox beat the Washington Nationals, the Mariners beat the Angels and the Blue Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles.
If that happens, Seattle would go to New York on Monday, and the winner would host Toronto on Tuesday. The winner of that game then travels to Boston for the actual wild card game on Wednesday.
Now, if the Red Sox lose while the Yankees, Mariners and Blue Jays win.
In that scenario, the Mariners would host the Blue Jays on Monday and the winner of that game hosts the Red Sox on Tuesday. The winner of Tuesday’s game then goes to New York for the wild card game against the Yankees on Wednesday.
The other three-way tie scenario involving the Mariners is even more interesting. That would be if the Mariners are the only team of the four to win on Sunday.
That would eliminate the Blue Jays and the Mariners would be tied with the Yankees and Red Sox.
Should that happen, the Yankees would play at Boston on Monday and the loser of that game goes to Seattle in a one-game playoff.
Then, the winner of Tuesday would face the winner of Monday’s game in the wild card. (The home team would be the team with the best record head-to-head. Seattle would be on the road regardless if this scenario plays out and they win on Tuesday).
Straight tie (two possibilities)
This scenario is a lot easier.
In this, the Mariners would win Sunday and the Blue Jays, who they’d be tied with entering Sunday, would lose to the Orioles on Sunday. Then, only one of the Yankees or Red Sox would lose.
In this scenario, the Mariners and one of the Yankees or Red Sox would be tied.
If the Red Sox and Mariners win and the Yankees and Blue Jays lose, Seattle heads to New York on Monday and the winner goes to Boston on Tuesday for the wild card game. The Blue Jays would be eliminated.
If the Yankees and Mariners win while the Red Sox and Blue Jays lose, Seattle goes to Boston on Monday and the winner goes to New York for the wild card game on Tuesday. Again, the Blue Jays would be out.
Just remember, a loss Sunday ends the Mariners’ season, even if each of the other three teams lose.
All four wild card contenders have essentially the same start time on Sunday.
• Rays @ Yankees: 12:05
• Red Sox @ Nationals: 12:05
• Orioles @ Blue Jays: 12:07
• Angels @ Mariners: 12:10