Note: We're counting down the final days of the MLB regular season — two more, can you believe it? — and each day we're giving you a corresponding list of important talking points about the postseason picture. Things are getting more tense by the day.
1. With a win, the Pirates will host a playoff game: We know the Pittsburgh Pirates are going to the playoffs for the first time since 1992, but with one more win (Saturday would be nice — wrap it up, guys), they'll host Tuesday's NL Wild Card game too. Playoff baseball in Pittsburgh, it's been a while.
The Pirates are playing the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday (at 1:05 p.m. ET), who they will also meet in that Wild Card game. Their weekend series decides who hosts the single-elimination game. The Pirates won the first game of the series, which is in Cincinnati, by the score of 4-1. On Saturday, Charlie Morton is pitching for the Pirates against the ever-consistent Bronson Arroyo for the Reds.
2. The Rangers can't afford to lose Saturday: With two games left and one game separating three teams, there's still a lot that could happen in the wild, wild AL Wild Card race. That three-way tie we told you about on Friday is still very much a possibility, especially with the Rays losing on Friday. Tampa Bay, which held the overall advantage in the Wild Card is now tied with the Cleveland Indians, with the Rangers a full game back.
If you're the Texas Rangers, trying to sneak into the playoffs after an early September flounder, there's hardly any room for failure, unless the other guys fails too. Really, the Rangers just need to win. It would be great, for Texas' purposes, if the the Rays and the Indians both lost on Saturday.
But this has turned into one of those situations where the Rangers really just to need to worry about themselves and what they can do. They need to beat the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday (at 12:05 p.m. ET). Derek Holland is pitching for the Rangers against Garrett Richards for the Angels. If the Rangers lose and the Rays and Indians win, Texas is done.
Here's how the playoff bracket would look if the season ended today. Keep an eye on the MLB standings and Saturday's scores to see how/if things change. We'll be back with our "postseason picture" post on Sunday.