How Indians-Tigers rainout could turn playoff schedule upside down

How could rain drops in Detroit affect a game next week inside a dome, let alone a game in Texas, let alone the possibility that somebody could have to play five games in five cities in five days next week?

Because in baseball, it’s that time of year. That’s how. So you don’t need to consult Jim Cantore to know that the rainout Thursday in Detroit could wreak havoc on the postseason schedule. We can sum up that potential havoc for you right here! It’s what we do.

MONDAY: The chances that the Tigers and Indians have to play a makeup game of Thursday’s rainout have actually increased dramatically because of what MLB describes as a rule “clarification” this season. In the past, they only would have had to play this game if it affected the Tigers’ chances of being a wild-card team. Not anymore.

Now the rules also require games like this to be made up if they affect home-field advantage in the postseason. In the Indians’ case, that’s a definite possibility. At the moment, the race for seeding in the AL goes like this:

Texas 94-65

Boston 92-67

Cleveland 91-67

If the Indians look up Sunday night and find themselves a half-game ahead of the Red Sox (or a half-game ahead of the Rangers for that matter), THEY would be the team required to play – and win – that makeup game Monday at 1:10 p.m. ET, whether it affects Detroit or not. If they’re a half-game behind, however, they wouldn’t be required to play, because both Boston and Texas hold the tiebreaker over them to determine seeding.

So for the Indians to hold home-field advantage in the Division Series, they have to finish ahead of either of those teams. Got it? Excellent. Now let’s move along.

TUESDAY: The AL wild-card game is supposed to be played Tuesday night, most likely under the roof in Toronto (because the Blue Jays win so many tiebreaker scenarios). Let us be the first to warn you: Better hang loose on that!

That Tuesday 8 p.m. ET start for that wild-card game is also in danger now, thanks to this rainout. It could get pushed back to Wednesday afternoon. Or even beyond that! Here are the different scenarios that could force that to happen:

• If there is a two-way tie for the last wild-card spot after Monday’s makeup game, then guess when that tiebreaker game would be played? Right you are. On Tuesday. We’ll fill you in on who plays where later.

• If there is a three-way tie for one or both wild-card spots after the makeup game, it would take two days to break those ties. So those games would be played Tuesday and Wednesday, with the wild-card game pushed back to Thursday.

• Or even if there is a three-way tie for one or both wild-card spots after Sunday, with no need for that makeup extravaganza the next day, the tiebreaker games would be Monday and Tuesday, meaning the wild-card game gets rescheduled for Wednesday. Following all this so far? It isn’t easy, right?

WEDNESDAY: If the AL has broken all its ties by Tuesday, then this becomes (woohoo) Wild-Card Doubleheader Day. The NL wild-card game is locked in for Wednesday night. So the AL wild-card game would likely move to late Wednesday afternoon. But ...

That’s only if all the ties are broken. If they’re still playing tiebreaker games Wednesday just to determine the two wild-card teams, then the last tiebreaker game would likely be played Wednesday afternoon, with the AL wild-card game getting bumped back yet another day.

THURSDAY: The ALDS is supposed to start Thursday. If you’ve gotten this far, you know it’s possible that that might not happen, either. Then this becomes another fun Doubleheader Day, with the AL wild-card game likely being played that afternoon, with Game 1 of the other Division Series starting on time that night.

FRIDAY/SATURDAY/SUNDAY: Yep, it’s possible the ripple effects of that rainout could still be reverberating over a week later – because if one of the AL Division Series can’t begin on time Thursday, baseball has even more decisions to make. If that ALDS doesn’t start until Friday, it means one of the travel days/off days in this series also has to disappear.

It could be the travel day between Games 2 and 3. Or it could be the travel day between Games 4 and 5 (which might not be necessary). Those decisions haven’t been made yet. They depend on everything from how many miles of travel would be involved to (surprise) when the TV networks would prefer to cram in a rescheduled game. So we’ll have to get back to you on this one. Sorry.

Who plays where

The possibilities are more numerous than you’d think. So for more details, we’d refer you to stuff we’ve already written about this. But we’ll do our best. Here goes:

TORONTO-BALTIMORE TIE: The Blue Jays won the season series. So that game would be in Toronto.

TORONTO-DETROIT TIE. The Blue Jays also won this season series. So that game would be in the jam-packed Rogers Centre, too.

BALTIMORE-DETROIT TIE: The Orioles won the season series. See you in Baltimore.

TORONTO-SEATTLE TIE: These teams split their season series. So home field is determined by records within their own division. At the moment, the Blue Jays have a better record in that category (38-35) than the Mariners (37-36). But if the Mariners come from two games behind to tie this weekend, with all three games for both teams being played in their division, then Seattle would have the better record. In other words, if this somehow happens, have a nice flight to Seattle.

BALTIMORE-SEATTLE TIE: The Mariners won this season series. So welcome to beautiful Safeco Field.

DETROIT-SEATTLE TIE: The Tigers won this season series. Comerica, here they come.

THREE-WAY TIES: Too many possibilities. Sorry.

FOUR-WAY TIES: See above. But you should know that baseball actually prefers four-way ties to three-way ties because they only take one day to resolve, not two. Those ties get broken with two tiebreaker games on one day, with the winners moving on to the wild-card game the next day.


What the heck. Might as well let the NL wild-card combatants join the chaos. A Cardinals-Giants tiebreaker game would be in St. Louis on Monday. A Mets-Giants tiebreaker game would be held Monday in New York. A Mets-Cardinals tiebreaker would be Monday in St. Louis. And if there’s a three-way tie, it’s likely there would be a Mets-Cardinals game Monday in St. Louis for the first wild-card spot, with the loser playing in San Francisco on Tuesday for the other spot. So there ya go.


You wouldn’t want to be the Tigers if their worst travel nightmare plays out. It could go like this:

SUNDAY: Finish the regular season in Atlanta.

MONDAY: Play that makeup game back in Detroit.

TUESDAY: Play a tiebreaker game in Baltimore or Toronto.

WEDNESDAY: Play the wild-card game in Baltimore or Toronto.

THURSDAY: Open the ALDS in Texas, Boston or Cleveland.

That’s five games in five days in five cities. And we haven’t even factored in what happens if Seattle surges into this mix. Which is far from out of the question.

That’s an October doomsday-scenario blog for another day. Luckily for all you fans of tiebreaker havoc, it might be a day that’s coming right up!