Cardinals' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 13, 2012

Cardinals' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 13, 2012

Cardinals' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 13, 2012
SAN DIEGO -- The Cardinals continue to hang on to the second Wild Card spot, but after being swept by the Padres to start a seven-game road trip, St. Louis has company quickly creeping up from behind. Wednesday's 3-2 loss to San Diego was the team's 11th loss in its last 15 games.

"We haven't been playing our best," catcher Yadier Molina said. "We're right there. It's going to take one swing, one pitch to get back on track. Hopefully, tomorrow we get there."

Indeed, Thursday would be an ideal time to get back on track. The Cardinals begin a critical four-game series in Los Angeles against a Dodgers team that trails St. Louis by a game in the standings. Behind the Dodgers, the Pirates, Brewers and Phillies all sit within three games of the Cardinals for the final National League playoff spot.

"That is not the way we wanted to start off this trip," said Kyle Lohse, who took the loss on Wednesday. "We have to pick it up. We can't depend on the other teams to keep losing. We have to take care of our own business. We've got a big series coming up."

Today's key games to watch (all times CT)

Phillies (Cloyd, 0-1) at Astros (Harrell, 10-9), 7:05 p.m. Preview >

Cardinals (Lynn, 14-7) at Dodgers (Beckett, 6-13) 9:10 p.m. Preview >

If the postseason started today ...

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Wild Card: Second Wild Card at First Wild Card
Division Series: Second-best AL record vs. Third-best AL record | Best AL record at Wild Card winner

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Wild Card: Second Wild Card at First Wild Card
Division Series: Second-best NL record vs. Third-best NL record | Best NL record at Wild Card winner

Postseason Bracket »

Postseason 101

Magic numbers
To calculate a team's magic number, take the number of games it has remaining and add one. Then subtract the difference in the number of losses between that team and its closest pursuer.

Tiebreaker scenarios
A tiebreaker game will be played to determine a division winner, even if the tied clubs are assured of participating in the postseason. If a division championship tiebreaker is necessary, the head-to-head record between the clubs will determine home-field advantage. If the head-to-head record is tied, then the division record will be the next tiebreaker.

If two clubs are tied for the two Wild Card berths, home-field advantage will be determined by the head-to-head record between the clubs. If the head-to-head record is tied, then the division record will be the next tiebreaker.

Tiebreaker rules »

2012 postseason schedule
Wild Card playoff games: Oct. 5
Division Series: Oct. 6-12
AL Championship Series: Oct. 13-21
NL Championship Series: Oct. 14-22
World Series: Oct. 24-Nov. 1

Chelsea Janes is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.