Red Sox

Red Sox still in control of playoff fate despite Yankees’ sweep

CBS Sports projects the Red Sox have better than 90 percent odds to make the AL wild card game, which would likely be a rematch against the Yankees.

Red Sox playoffs
Boston Red Sox pitcher Nick Pivetta. Michael Dwyer/AP
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Let’s not sugarcoat it: this past weekend went about as bad as it could for the Red Sox from a pure results standpoint.

Boston blew its two-game lead in the American League wild card standings thanks to a sweep at the hands of the rival New York Yankees, who are now 7-1 in the last eight head-to-head matchups between the teams after the Sox started 2021 with eight straight wins over the Bronx Bombers.

The good vibes from the team’s seven-game win streak and “yellow jersey” phenomenon? Out the window after Giancarlo Stanton and Co. — as well as Joe West, arguably — broke their backs three games in a row with their season still in the balance.

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But all isn’t lost just yet: a number of playoff odds trackers suggest Boston still stands a very good chance of making the playoffs with six games to play.

The latest CBS Sports MLB playoff odds give the Red Sox a 91.6 percent probability of making the postseason despite clinging to the final AL wild card spot and having no chance to win the AL East at this point — the Tampa Bay Rays have already sewn up their division title.

Neither FiveThirtyEight’s nor Baseball-Reference’s calculations are quite as bullish as that but do give the Red Sox about a 78 percent chance to at least make the wild card game.

A lot of that optimism has to do with the Red Sox’ next two opponents as well as a stroke of potential good fortune regarding two of their closest competitors.

Boston closes out its season with three games each against the cellar-dwelling Orioles and the Washington Nationals, the current occupants of last place in the NL East. A strong finish to the season could all but assure themselves a spot in the wild card game.

On the other hand, the Yankees will face the Toronto Blue Jays, who sit just one game behind the Red Sox.

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The Blue Jays couldn’t pull themselves into a tie with the Sox after losing their series opener to the Twins, but they could make that up against the Yankees. What’s more, they get their own season-ending series with the Orioles to pad their stats and make a push.

The Yankees, meanwhile, have to handle the Blue Jays and the division-winning Rays, which has to be why CBS, FiveThirtyEight and Baseball-Reference all gave New York lower odds of making the playoffs than the Red Sox.

Long story short: the weekend sweep by the Yankees has to hurt the pride some, but it hasn’t killed the Sox’ postseason chances. They continue to control their destiny.

If they take care of business against the Orioles and Nationals, it doesn’t matter what New York or Toronto do: the Red Sox will make the wild card game and get their shot at making the divisional round. With a little outside help, they might even get to host that one-game playoff next week.

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