Both the Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians have seemingly been playing elimination games for the past month, so when they meet Wednesday night for a winner-take-all Wild Card showdown it may seem like "another day, another game."
But despite similar team statistics, the Rays have faced a much tougher road to the playoffs. The Rays played not only in the tough AL East but faced opponents with a winning percentage of .500 or better in 97 games. Tampa Bay went 48-49 (including a 4-2 record against the Indians), a .494 winning percentage, in those contests. Against sub-.500 teams, the Rays were 44-22 (.666).
The Indians, meanwhile, played in the easier AL Central and faced teams with a winning percentage of at least .500 in just 69 games. They went 32-37, a .463 winning percentage. Against teams with a below-.500 record, the Indians were 60-33 (.645).
Here's how the two teams stacked up overall during the regular season:
|Strikeouts per nine innings (pitching)||8.05||8.61|
|Walks per nine innings (pitching)||2.96||3.46|
|Home runs per nine innings (pitching)||0.94||0.92|