Tampa Bay Rays Manager Joe Maddon, left, celebrates with pitcher Joel Peralta… (Jim Rogash / Getty Images )
Reporting from Toronto — The Tampa Bay Rays would have a slight edge over the Angels and the Boston Red Sox in the unlikely event the three teams finish in a three-way tie for the American League wild-card spot.
The Rays, who won Thursday, are two games behind the Red Sox, who were idle, in the wild-card standings, while the Angels, who lost, are three back with six games to play.
Under baseball's intricate tiebreaking formula, if three clubs tie for a division title or wild-card berth with identical winning percentages, the tie is broken by designating the clubs as "A," "B" and "C," with selection of those designations based on the clubs' records against one another. The three teams would then play tiebreaking games as follows:
Club A would play host to Club B on Thursday, Sept. 29. The winner of the A/B game would then play host to Club C on a date to be determined, most likely on Sept. 30. The winner of the A/B-vs.-C game would be declared the American League's wild-card team.
The Rays are a combined 16-10 against the Red Sox and Angels, so they would choose whether they wanted to be team A, B or C. The Red Sox are a combined 12-14 against the Rays and Angels, so they would get the second pick. The Angels, 6-10 against the Red Sox and Rays, would then get what was left.
The Rays would probably choose to be team C. That way they would only have to win one game to gain the wild card. But they would have to play that game on the road.
Such a scenario could create a bizarre four-day odyssey for the Angels, who close the regular season against the Rangers in Anaheim on Wednesday night. They could then travel to Boston to play the Red Sox on Thursday and, if they won, return to Anaheim to play the Rays on Friday.
If they won that game, they would fly to New York to open the division series against the Yankees on Saturday.
Both AL division series are currently scheduled to start next Friday, but if two rounds of play-in games were needed to determine the wild-card winner, the first round of the playoffs would be pushed back a day. That would probably lead Major League Baseball to eliminate the scheduled off day between Games 2 and 3 of the division series.
Well, there's more — and this is bad for the Angels too.
A two-team tie for the wild card would force a one-game playoff on Thursday, Sept. 29, with home field determined by head-to-head records. The Red Sox won the season series against the Angels, 6-2, so they would have home field for a one-game playoff between Boston and L.A.
The Rays and Angels split their season series, however, so home field would go to the team with the better intra-division record. Tampa Bay (37-29 vs. AL East) holds a comfortable edge over the Angels (26-25 vs. AL West) there.
Angels outfielder Peter Bourjos has a lot of keepsake baseballs at home. And he has promised to bring one to spring training next year to show to Vernon Wells — because Wells autographed it.
Bourjos was at an Arizona Fall League game in Peoria with his father, a big league scout, when Wells homered. Bourjos, then 12, retrieved the ball and got Wells, a Blue Jays minor leaguer, to sign it.
Wells hadn't heard that story until Wednesday — and he didn't seem happy to learn that the player who forced him to take his three Gold Gloves over to left field this season once pestered him for an autograph.
"Wow," he deadpanned. "That's great."
Asked how Wells treated his future teammate when he was just a preteen fan, Bourjos thought for a second and said: "I don't remember him being mean."