Scoreboard watching.

Now it comes down to scoreboard watching, which only really matters where your team loses. 

The Rangers lost. With only a handful of games left and no margin for error, every loss is monumental. 

After winning six in a row, pulling themselves out of a monumental tailspin, including a rare sweep of Toronto in Toronto, the Rangers arrived in Cleveland on a roll.

The Rangers lost. Toronto won. Houston lost. Seattle lost. So now this sprint to the finish, in which four teams are fighting for three playoff spots, looks like this:

Houston leads the A.L. West by a half game over Texas, and one-and-a-half-games over Seattle. 

Texas, who currently hold the second wild card, is one game ahead of Seattle for the third and final wild card spot. 

Seattle is a half-game-ahead of Toronto. 

So that means, just two games separate Toronto and Houston. It’s a razor-thin margin. The only way to avoid being on the other dull end of the razor is to win.

Houston has just as much of a chance to win the West as it does to not make the playoffs at all. So do Texas and Seattle. Toronto has sewn up third in their division, the A.L. East. But it’s that third wild card slot they are vying for with Houston, Texas, and Seattle.

Where a team finishes in this wild card format has huge implications. 

The top two division winners get first-round byes. So, right now that would be Baltimore in the East and whoever wins the West. 

The other four teams play a best-of-three wild card round, with all three games played at the field of the higher seed.

Tampa Bay pretty much has the highest wild card seed locked up. Which means the teams still fighting for the second and third wild card slots will “win” the chance to play three games on the road. 

That’s why this tight division race is so huge. Texas, Seattle, or Houston, can either win the division and not have to play a first round, get stuck playing a best-of-three on the road, or go home without making the playoffs.

It’s scoreboard watching season. All the Rangers need to do is win.