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

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

Orioles' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 16, 2012
The A's, who have been carried by stout starting pitching in their own surprising run, capitalized on Orioles starter Zach Britton's command issues and used a five-run third inning to hand Baltimore a 5-2 loss Saturday night.

The defeat, in front of 20,342 at Oakland Coliseum, drops the Orioles out of first place in the American League East and gives the A's a 5-3 series edge, which could have potential playoff implications. Should the A's -- who are leading in the AL Wild Card race -- and Orioles tie for a Wild Card spot, the game would be in Oakland, where Baltimore has lost 16 of its last 18 games and is 8-29 since 2003.

"It's important, you have that extra Wild Card, it does allow that one-game playoff and there are five or six teams in that boat and we want to keep ourselves in there," Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said. "We just have to come back tomorrow with the same plan and get this win. It's not a must-win, but it is a must-win."

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

Rays (Moore, 10-10) at Yankees (Kuroda, 13-10), 1:05 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 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

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.