White Sox Path to the Postseason: Sept. 13, 2012

White Sox Path to the Postseason: Sept. 13, 2012

White Sox Path to the Postseason: Sept. 13, 2012
CHICAGO -- Chicago's lead in the American League Central dropped to a precarious one game after Detroit held on for an 8-6 victory at U.S. Cellular Field on Wednesday night. Trailing, 8-1, entering the bottom of the eighth, the White Sox scored four in that frame and one in the ninth to bring the potential tying run to the plate against closer Jose Valverde with two outs.

But Orlando Hudson took a called third strike, completing the Tigers' ninth win in the two teams' last 10 head-to-head matchups. As catcher A.J. Pierzynski said postgame, there are no moral victories at this time of year despite the great comeback. Then again, if the White Sox beat Justin Verlander on Thursday, they return to two games ahead with four more games off the schedule and just 19 to play.

"We're going to have to win games after tomorrow, too. So play hard," manager Robin Ventura said. "You just continue to play. We're not quitting at any point. That's the one great point about the team. They're not going to get down to where they're giving up. You've got a lot of people that you're going to play on the schedule that are good. And you continue to play."

"We're at the point in the season where we've got to win. It doesn't matter what the scenario," said Detroit starter Max Scherzer, who set a career high with his 16th win on Wednesday. "We know the White Sox are a good ballclub. We know they're very capable of winning this division. For us, we come to the park every day expecting to win, plain and simple."

Scherzer struck out seven over six innings, making basically one mistake, which resulted in Kevin Youkilis' fourth-inning homer. Prince Fielder delivered the deciding shot in the seventh with a three-run blast off left-handed reliever Leyson Septimo.

Chris Sale, who is 8-0 with a 1.20 ERA over his last nine starts at home, gets the call opposite Verlander in the series finale.

Thursday's key game to watch

Tigers (Verlander, 13-8) at White Sox (Sale, 16-6), 8:10 p.m. CT 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.

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

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.