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Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Playoff scenarios: AL West title undecided

By Richard Durrett

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Texas Rangers still need to win one of the final two games to claim the AL West title for a third consecutive season. They are one game up, the closest the race has been since April 11, with two to play and they've got Matt Harrison, one of their best starters all season, on the mound for them.

So what are all the possible scenarios? Let's take a look at as many as we can:

* Let's start with what we know. We know the five teams in the AL playoffs -- the Rangers, A's, Yankees, Orioles and Tigers. And we know the Tigers are the No. 3 seed and AL Central champions. At this point, we don't know anything else about where teams will be seeded and where they will end up.

* The Rangers need to win one of the final two games to claim the AL West. If they do that, they'll be either the No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the AL.

* To be the No. 1 seed, the Rangers must finish ahead of the New York Yankees, who own the tiebreaker (head-to-head meetings during the season). Right now, the Yankees and Rangers are tied, meaning if the playoffs started today, the Rangers would be headed to Detroit to face Justin Verlander and the Tigers on Saturday.

* If the Rangers are the top seed, they would face the winner of the wild card game, which would include the A's and whichever team -- the Yankees or Orioles -- doesn't win the AL East.

* If the Rangers lose the next two games, they would be in the AL Wild Card game on Friday. The wild card team with the best record would host the game. The Rangers are one-game up on the Orioles, who are currently a game back of the Yankees in the AL East. If the Rangers and Orioles are tied, Texas would host the game because they have a better head-to-head record with Baltimore. If they are tied with the Yankees for the wild card, the Yankees would host it.

* Can the A's still get the best overall record? Yes, they can. They'd need to win the next two games and get some help from the Boston Red Sox. But it's still possible the A's could get the top seed.

* What if the Rangers, Orioles and Yankees all tie for the best record in the AL? Well, the Yankees and Orioles would be playing on Thursday in that scenario to decide the AL East. And what happens in that game would determine the Rangers' seeding. They'd be the No. 1 seed if Baltimore beat the Yankees because Texas owns the regular-season tiebreaker over the Orioles. And they'd be the No. 2 seed if the Yankees won because New York owns the tiebreaker over Texas.

So there's a lot to watch today and tomorrow in terms of how all of this sorts itself out. Stay tuned.