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MLB playoff scenarios: Yankees are in, but puzzle isn't complete

The New York Yankees are in the American League playoffs. But, who they will play and whether they will be AL East champs or a wild-card team is still to be determined.

John E. Sokolowski-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

The New York Yankees' 9-6 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday guaranteed that the Yankees will be in the American League playoffs. Whether they will be the American League East champions or have to compete in a one-game wild-card playoff remains to be seen. As does who else will be joining them in the AL playoff party.

YES Network summarized the playoff picture for the Yankees this way:

The Yankees can breathe at least a little bit easier than they did yesterday, as their Sunday win over Toronto combined with the Angels' loss to Texas clinched playoff berths for both the Bombers and Baltimore Orioles - so, no matter what happens in the final 2012 installment of Yankees-Red Sox, there will be at least one more game after Wednesday for the pinstripers.

But when? That is the question, and it's one that the Yankees can't answer on their own. They head into the final series tied with the Orioles for first place in the AL East, and could clinch the AL East as soon as the end of Game No. 161 or as late as never.

There are literally more than a dozen scenarios that could play out over the next three days, but here's what we do know and where they stand: The Yankees are in the playoffs, and can finish anywhere from the No. 1 seed to the No. 5 seed and can play any one of the six teams still alive in their first playoff game.

As of Monday, the Yankees and Orioles are one game behind Texas for the No. 1 seed, and the AL East Champion will be either the No. 1 or No. 2 seed. In addition, for whichever one of the AL East leaders ends up as a Wild Card, the two teams are also one game up on Oakland (and four on Tampa, meaning they would host them for sure if the Rays clinch the fifth spot) for the right to host the Wild Card Playoff Game - and as the A's own the tiebreaker on both New York and Baltimore, either would need to have a better record than Oakland to avoid going west for the do-or-die game.

Seems simple enough...except that in their final series, Oakland plays Texas and Baltimore plays Tampa Bay, so there are enough fluid parts involved to keep the number of scenarios unmanageable for at least one more day.

Still confused? SBNation.com offers a breakdown of the various AL scenarios that should help. Unless, of course, it just confuses you even more.