After Tuesday night's games, Kansas City stands at 86-71, leaving the Royals with just five games to play in the regular season. But they still need to knock off a handful of contenders before they can clinch a trip to the post-season.
Kansas City currently holds one of the two wild-card spots with the Oakland Athletics, a team with an identical 86-71 record.
So, if both the Royals and Athletics win just one of their final five games, the New York Yankees (81-76) and the Cleveland Indians (82-76) will be out of the running. And if the Yankees or Indians lose even one game, they will be instantly eliminated from post-season play.
That leaves the Seattle Mariners (83-74) as the closest competitor to the Athletics and Royals. If both Oakland and Kansas City win three of their last five games, or if the Mariners lose three games of their own, Seattle will be done.
The Mariners continue a four-game series with the Blue Jays in Toronto tonight.
It's an interesting scenario: If Toronto beats the Mariners on Wednesday or Thursday, they will be helping Kansas City — and the Athletics — get closer to making the playoffs and thus helping to potentially hand themselves an undesirable crown within the next few days.
A year ago, there were two teams that had longer playoff droughts than Toronto: the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Royals.
But the Pirates finally made it back to the playoffs last year after a 21-year absence and last night ensured they will return this time around.
The Royals have not made the playoffs since 1985, the year they beat the Blue Jays in the ALCS and went on to win the World Series.
Toronto has not been to the playoffs since their last World Series run in 1993. More than 3,300 games later, a return trip remains an elusive goal.Suggest a correction