Yankees' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 16, 2012

Yankees' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 16, 2012

Yankees' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 16, 2012
NEW YORK -- The Yankees did their part to remain atop the American League East in a Saturday matinee, beating the Rays, 5-3, to take a one-game lead on the Orioles when paired with Baltimore's loss in Oakland.

It also extended New York's lead over the Rays to four games. After Sunday's series finale, only three of New York's remaining 16 games will come against a playoff contender -- the A's.

"This is where you want to be," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "You want an opportunity to play in the postseason. Let's go back to Day 1 in Spring Training, and we talked about how tough our division was going to be. It hasn't disappointed."

CC Sabathia struggled in his start on Friday, but Ivan Nova returned from the disabled list on Saturday with exactly the type of outing New York needed, pitching into the seventh inning and allowing only two runs after three weeks on the disabled list due to right shoulder inflammation.

With Andy Pettitte returning from the DL to start Tuesday's game, the Yankees will have their five-man rotation together for the first time since Pettitte and Sabathia landed on the DL on June 27.

Wells Fargo

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

Rays (Moore, 10-10) at Yankees (Kuroda, 13-10), 1:05 p.m. Preview >
Angels (Haren, 10-11) at Royals (W. Smith, 5-7), 2:10 p.m. Preview >
Orioles (Wolf, 5-10) at A's (Straily, 2-0), 4:05 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 games 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 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 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

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