Braves' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 15, 2012

Braves' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 15, 2012

Braves' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 15, 2012
ATLANTA -- An errant throw from Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond allowed Andrelton Simmons to score the winning run in the ninth inning of the Braves' 2-1 walk-off victory Friday night. The win moved the Braves to within 7 1/2 games of the Nationals in the National League East with 17 games to play, and brought them one step closer to clinching at least a playoff berth as one of the National League Wild Cards.

The Braves lead the National League Wild Card race, but after getting swept by the Brewers in a matchup between two Wild Card contenders in Milwaukee earlier this week, utility infielder Tyler Pastornicky, whose ground ball started the game-winning play Friday, said it was important to win the series opener against the Nationals.

"It's huge," Pastornicky said. "It's a big series for us and to win it like that, hopefully we can take that momentum and keep rolling."

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

Nationals (Jackson, 9-10) at Braves (Hanson, 12-8), 4:05 p.m. Preview >

Pirates (Rodriguez, 3-4) at Cubs (Berken, 0-0), 1:05 p.m. Preview >

Cardinals (Garcia, 4-7) at Dodgers (Blanton, 1-4), 10:10 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

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