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It all comes down to this

September 28, 2011 - Steve Murch
If anyone tells you one baseball game doesn't make a difference because of how long the season is, they aren't paying attention. Eight games Wednesday have playoff implications, either to make the playoffs or to earn home field advantage in the first round. And the two playoff teams not affected by the outcome of any of the games still are involved in the pivotal games to decide the playoffs.

In the American League Boston and Tampa are tied for the wild card spot. If both teams win or both teams lose there will be a playoff. Same goes with the National League, if St. Louis and Atlanta match the other's result. If one wins and one loses in both instances then the winner is, in the loser goes home.

The second seed, which brings home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs, is still up for grabs in both leagues. Detroit and Texas are separated by one game. A Tigers win matched with an Angels loss give Detroit a tie and the home field. In the NL, Arizona trails Milwaukee by a game, but if the Diamondbacks win and Brewers lose, Arizona gets home field in the tiebreaker system.

So how does any one game make a difference? Well, if any of the teams had a different outcome in any game prior to tonight the stakes would be different.

For the Tigers and Rangers, the team that gets the second seed might have a slight advantage over their first round opponent. If Boston and Tampa have a playoff, then they have to pitch one of their aces. And on top of that, both are pitching top end of the rotation guys in game 162. That could mean the No. 3 starter would be available for game one of a series, while the second seed will have No. 1 rested and ready. The third seed gets New York on the road. The NL alignment is murkier because the wild card could come from two different divisions.

So one game does make a difference. And we could be looking at a pair of games No. 163 to determine the playoffs if the wild card situations aren't resolved. Wednesday night will be a fun night for baseball fans.


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