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Last week begins in mourning, ends with Wild dash

Tight WC races will be resolved by one thing: Winning
MLB.com @DougMillerMLB

The tragic loss of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez on Sunday has stunned the baseball world. The game between Miami and the Atlanta Braves was understandably canceled as the Major Leagues grieve the loss of one of the sport's brightest young stars along with Fernandez's family and friends.

On Monday, the mourning process will continue for all connected to Fernandez, and his team and the other 29 will have to move forward in the week ahead, which brings about the last seven days of the 162-game regular-season schedule.

The tragic loss of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez on Sunday has stunned the baseball world. The game between Miami and the Atlanta Braves was understandably canceled as the Major Leagues grieve the loss of one of the sport's brightest young stars along with Fernandez's family and friends.

On Monday, the mourning process will continue for all connected to Fernandez, and his team and the other 29 will have to move forward in the week ahead, which brings about the last seven days of the 162-game regular-season schedule.

With complicated Wild Card standings and home-field advantage situations still to be determined, there's sure to be plenty of drama on the field as the sport remembers a life cut way too short off it.

Current standings | Wild Card standings | Postseason picture

The three-way Wild Card battle in the National League has been intriguing for weeks, and it will come to its culmination this week. The Mets' bats broke out in epic fashion on Sunday, putting up a 17-spot against the Phillies, and it kept them in the top spot for the Wild Card at 83-73. Meanwhile, the Giants lost to the Padres and begin the week at 82-74, a half-game ahead of the Cardinals, who lost to the Cubs on Sunday night and fell to 81-74.

This week, the Mets travel to Miami, where the devastation felt by the franchise and city will surely permeate the ballpark as the team takes the field once again to play ball. New York will play three games against the Marlins before traveling Thursday and finishing up the regular season with three in Philadelphia.

The Giants, still trying to win a World Series title in the even-numbered year of 2016 after accomplishing that grand feat in 2010, 2012 and 2014, play all six of their remaining games at home, with three against Colorado early in the week and three vs. the Dodgers over the weekend.

The Cardinals have seven more games on the docket, and all of them are at home, too. They play the Reds in a four-game set before completing the slate with a three-game weekender against the Pirates.

"Every game is a big game," St. Louis center fielder Randal Grichuk said. "You see the Mets and the Giants, they've got easy schedules. We can't afford to lose a series."

The same goes for the American League Wild Card contenders. The Blue Jays are 1 1/2 games ahead in the top slot, and the Orioles have the same advantage for the second berth, but three other teams -- Detroit, Seattle and Houston -- are all within three games.

Things should get very interesting right away when Baltimore crosses the border to take on Toronto in Rogers Centre in three games beginning Tuesday. During that pivotal confrontation, the Mariners and Astros will be locking horns in Houston in a Monday-through-Wednesday three-gamer that could effectively end a season for one of those contenders.

And don't think for a second that the Tigers have it easy. They have to start the week with four games against the AL Central-leading Indians, although that series will be played in Detroit.

"We all believe we can do it in here," Tigers left-hander Matt Boyd said. "And that's exactly what we plan on doing. We can only control our end of things. That being said, we still believe in ourselves. We're, what, a game and a half back now? We know what we can do."

After the Wild Cards are settled, it'll be down to home-field advantage.

In the NL, the Cubs have already clinched the best record in the league and will host a Division Series. If the season ended after Sunday's results, they would host the winner of the Giants-at-Mets Wild Card game. But the Dodgers and Nationals, who are on pace to be the other Division Series opponents, are separated in the standings by only 1 1/2 games, with Washington at 91-64 and the Dodgers at 90-66.

In the AL, as of Sunday night the AL West-leading Rangers would have home field against the Wild Card winner even though they and the AL East-leading Red Sox have the same record at 92-64. The reason? The teams went 3-3 against each other this year, so head-to-head results would still be a tie. As of now, the Rangers have a better intradivision record than Boston, which would earn them the top ranking of the four AL postseason teams by virtue of the second tie-breaker. That scenario would have Cleveland visiting Boston in the other ALDS.

Then again, Boston enters the week on an 11-game winning streak. The Red Sox are peaking at the right time.

If this seems confusing now, it should be a lot less complicated by Sunday, and the strategy for each contending team is the same as it's always been: Win.

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB.