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So what chance do the Rays really have ....

1

October

The Rays take the field tonight for Game 160 with the possibility of still getting to the playoffs.

In most years, that would sound like a good thing, though given how they got to this point, this season may be viewed as a disappointment.

But, still, there is a chance - albeit slim, as they trail the A's by three games with three to play, so we'll break down exactly what has to happen, and what it could mean later this week.

The first thing you have to know is this:

The Rays have to win. 

They have to win their three games here against Baltimore. Then they would have to win one, or two, tiebreaker games. And that would just get them to the one-game wild-card playoff game, on the road, at either Baltimore or New York.

Next, the A's have to lose.

The A's have to lose three straight games to the Rangers. And then they have to lose at least one tiebreaker game.

So to make it clear, the Rays are out as soon as they lose a game or the A's win a game. Which means it could happen as soon as tonight.

So now that we have that established, here are the details:

Just to force a tie for the second wild-card, the Rays have to sweep the Orioles and the A's have to swept by the Rangers.

That would force a tie with the A's, and there would be a one-game tie-breaker on Thursday, which would be in Oakland since the A's won the season series from the Rays.

Then there are the Angels, who have the same 88-71 record as the Rays. If the Angels sweep the Mariners in Seattle, they would in the same position as the Rays if the A's get swept.

So then there would be a three-way tie, which means two tiebreaker games. The same season series tiebreakers are used, and that would favor the A's, who also won their series with the Angels, 10-9, so they get to pick, as the "A" team , whether to play two games, with both at home, or one game on the road. The safer route is to play one game, so that would leave the Rays, who won their season series with the Angels 9-1, as the "B" team and in line to host the first and, if they win, the second tiebreaker game.

Got all that?

And, just so you know, no team has ever overcome a 3.0-game deficit to reach the postseason with three games to play. The 2009 Twins were three back with four to play and made it.

So just to play it out, in a two-way tie, the Rays would play must-win games against the Orioles at the Trop tonight, Tuesday and Wednesday, then a tiebreaker on Thursday in Oakland against the A's and then the one-game wild-card playoff on Friday against the Orioles in Baltimore or the Yankees in New York.

And in the three-way situation, they would play must-win games against the Orioles at the Trop tonight, Tuesday and Wednesday, then three consecutive win-or-go home games on Thursday at the Trop against the Angels, on Friday at the Trop against the A's and then Saturday at the Orioles or Yankees.

And if they get that far? The best-of-five division series would open Sunday at the Trop.

[Last modified: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 12:39am]

    

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