The Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles will play a three-game series in Baltimore this weekend. It will be the last time these two teams play in the regular season. They played in Arlington back in April and the Orioles won two of three. Now Texas will travel to Baltimore to finish the season series. It is late May, but this series could have ramifications for the playoffs in October and could even determine if this Rangers team even makes the playoffs.
In March 2022 an expanded playoff was established with the new collective bargaining agreement. The playoff was expanded from 10 teams to 12 teams. One under-discussed part of that agreement is the elimination of one-game playoffs. Tie-breakers will now be determined first by the head-to-head record. Right now the tiebreaker will not come into play as Texas is a division leader and Baltimore is the first wild card team. That could change if Houston does eventually pass Texas in the standings and Texas joins the group of wild card teams.
Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles Tiebreaker Scenarios
Right now Baltimore is 32-17 and has a one-game advantage on Texas at 31-18. Texas would need to win two of three this weekend to tie up the season series and to push this to the next tiebreaker which is an intra-division record. Texas right now would win that tiebreaker as they have an 11-5 record against AL West opponents and Baltimore is 10-7 against AL East opponents. If Baltimore win this series then they will take the season series and would force Texas to either win the AL West or finish with a better record to ensure that they do not lose out on potentially hosting a wild card series or even making the playoffs at all. In the scenario where Baltimore and Texas are tied for the last wild card the team that would move on is the team with the better head-to-head record. If you want a full list of the tiebreakers then read this article from MLB.com
The Rangers need to go into Baltimore this weekend and treat this series as if it was a playoff series. This is not just another series. Win two of three and the Rangers remove the tiebreaker advantage that the Orioles would have. If they win all three Texas would then own that tiebreaker advantage over Baltimore. If Texas can claim that this weekend it would be a nice thing to have in their back pocket this season and especially when September comes around.
It is not hyperbole to say that if these teams are still close in late September we will look back at what happened in this series in late May and either look back with regret or with relief. Keep this in mind as you are watching this series play out this weekend.