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September 11, 2017

Should the first-place Red Sox and the second-place Yankees wind up tied for first, the tiebreaker process will first depend on whether or not the loser of a tiebreaker game would still be in position to claim a wild-card. Entering play on Sept. 13, New York had a three-game lead in that race. It's very unlikely that another AL East team could join them in a tie, given that the next-closest club is more than 10 games out.

It gets complicated—much more complicated—if those teams tie for the division and a wild-card team (or teams) also finishes with the same record. Here's what could happen:

1. Two-Teams Tied (no wild-card): Red Sox at Yankees

New York won the season series and would host a tiebreaker game. It would be played on Oct. 2, 39 years to the day after the Yankees beat the Red Sox in an AL East tiebreaker thanks to a three-run home run by a light-hitting shortstop named Bucky Dent.

2. Two-Teams Tied For Division And One Wild-Card:

Tiebreaker game determines division champion. Loser becomes the wild-card.

3. Two-Teams Tied For Division And Tied With One Non-AL East Team For One Wild-Card:

Tiebreaker game is held for division title; loser plays at the non-AL Est team the next day to determine the wild-card

4. Two-Teams Tied For Division And Tied With Two Non-AL East Teams For One Wild-Card:

Let's assume the Twins and Angels (Los Angeles has home field advantage) are the two other teams in play here.

Game 1, Oct. 2: Red Sox at Yankees; winner gets division title and loser moves to wild-card bracket

Game 2, Oct. 2: Angels at Twins; loser is eliminated 

Game 3, Oct. 3: Loser of Red Sox-Yankees at Winner of Angels-Twins; winner gets wild-card spot

5. Two-Teams Tied For Division And Tied With Two Non-AL East Teams For Two Wild Cards:

Game 1, Oct. 2: Red Sox at Yankees; winner gets division title and loser moves to wild-card bracket

Game 2, Oct. 2: Angels at Twins; winner gets first wild-card; loser moves to wild-card bracket

Game 3, Oct. 3: Loser of Red Sox-Yankees vs. Loser of Angels-Twins. Normal rules determine who would have home field advantage.

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