BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Red Sox have already gained a great advantage heading into the playoffs as they will avoid the one-game Wild Card playoff and go straight to the American League Division Series. But they still have a chance to gain one more: home-field advantage throughout the AL playoffs.
As it stands on Friday, the Red Sox (92-67) are two games behind the Texas Rangers (94-65) for the top seed in the AL. The Cleveland Indians (91-67) are a half-game behind the Red Sox with a game at hand remaining in the regular season.
The Red Sox would win the tiebreaker against Cleveland if they finish the regular season with the same record due to their 4-2 record against the AL Central champs. However, they split the season series with the Rangers 3-3 and Texas would win the second tiebreaker, which is the best record against their own division. The Rangers are 47-29 (.618) against the AL West, while the Red Sox would at best be 45-31 (.592) against the AL East if they sweep the final three games of the season against the Toronto Blue Jays.
This puts the Rangers in the best position to secure home-field advantage. The Red Sox will need to end up with more wins than the Rangers, meaning they would need to sweep the Blue Jays while the Rangers would need to get swept by the Tampa Bay Rays in their final three games. The most likely outcome is the Red Sox host the Indians in the ALDS, but they also need to get back to winning if they even want home-field in that series.
If the Red Sox fail to clinch home-field in the AL playoffs, their three-game sweep at the hands of the Yankees in the Bronx would look worse, despite the fact that the Red Sox clinched the AL East crown and the Yankees were eliminated in the process.