Patrick Corbin was pretty good and Hyun-Jin Ryu was not particularly good and Arizona won 4-1 to halt the Dodgers’ march to the NL West title for a day. The Dodgers magic number stays at 6 and the Dodgers won’t be able to clinch at home unless they sweep all four games from the Giants with Arizona losing two of three at home to Colorado or the Dodgers winning three games from the Giants and Colorado sweeping Arizona.
So…. it looks more likely that the Dodgers will be having their celebration in Phoenix where they travel to on Monday. This is probably good news for the people who have to clean up the Dodgers clubhouse. But bad news for people who have to clean up the visiting clubhouse at Chase Field. Or maybe it’s good news for whomever has the carpet cleaning contract for Chase Field.
These are good problems to have if you’re a Dodgers fan.
Are there bad problems?
The Cardinals have caught the Dodgers for second best record in the National League, two games behind Atlanta. However, the Dodgers own the tiebreaker edge over the Cardinals, so it’s effectively a one-game lead. Then again, the Braves own the tiebreaker edge over the Dodgers, so that’s effectively a three-game lead. And if the Dodgers, Cardinals, and Atlanta all finish with the same record? It’s still Atlanta on top with the Dodgers second and the Cardinals third.
Not far behind the Cardinals though are the resilient Pirates, who finished off a three-game sweep in Texas today. The Pirates are one game behind the Cardinals. If the Cardinals and Pirates tie for first in the NL Central, the tie would be broken on the field with the Pirates being the host. A three-way tie among the NL Central leaders (which Jon described earlier) would take a while to develop, especially because the Reds and Pirates play each other six times in the final two weeks.
But if you want real do or die fun, it looks the AL Wild Cards are the place to be. Texas has the first wild card spot by 2 1/2 games over Tampa Bay. The Yankees are one game back, but two in the mostly important loss column. Cleveland and the Orioles are 1 1/2 games back and Kansas City is 2 games back.
How would MLB break a five-way tie? (Which is somewhat unlikely because there are a lot of games left between the contenders) It’s not in MLB’s list of contingencies. If it’s like the tiebreaker set up for the 1973 NL East, which could have ended in a five-way tie, there would be some method to seed the teams 1-5 (best to worst). Team 1 gets a bye while 3 plays at 2 and 5 plays at 4. The winner of the game between 5 and 4 would host team 1. Then the winner of that game would play at the home stadium of the winner of the game between 2 and 3. It would take three days and it would be a mess. A big glorious mess. (If the five teams were playing for TWO wild card spots, then it would just take two days because you wouldn’t need the last tiebreaker game.)
And there are fewer teams left in contention now for playoff spots. The Giants, Rockies, and Mets all were put out to pasture. The only team that can be mathematically eliminated on Thursday is Minnesota, who plays an early game against Oakland. Whom they lost to by an 18-3 margin on Wednesday.