With their win in last night's game against the Yankees, the Tampa Bay Rays remain tied with the Boston Red Sox for the AL Wild Card lead. This race has come down to the final game of the season, and even though the Rays face the tougher opponent tonight, the most recent updated playoff odds have the Rays as the slight favorites.â†µ
Baseball Prospectus updated their playoff odds last night, and they found that the Rays currently have a 54% chance of winning the AL Wild Card. These odds account for the fact that the Red Sox are facing the Orioles, and the Yankees will not be playing their regulars long in tonight's game; they are likely starting a Triple-A pitcher as opposed to one of their regular rotation arms. Also, the Red Sox are counting on Jon Lester to be dominant on only three-days rest, which could work out wonderfully or backfire in their faces.â†µ
Even if you concede that the Rays and Red Sox are essentially a toss up in tonight's action, you have to factor in the possible one-game playoff scenario. If the Rays and Red Sox end tonight tied, they will play in a one-game playoff on Thursday afternoon in Tampa Bay. The Rays will have home-field advantage working in their favor, and they will also likely have rookie ace Matt Moore on the mound. The Red Sox...well, they're not even sure who they'd pitch in a tie-breaking game. At the moment, their plan seems to be to work out a last-minute trade.â†µ
In the end, this race is one giant coin flip. Either team could pull out a win, since one game results can be so fluky. But mathematically speaking, for the first time all season, the Rays are the favorites for the Wild Card. Wow.