Rays' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 17, 2012

Rays' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 17, 2012

Rays' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 17, 2012
NEW YORK -- The Rays are looking forward to heading back home after a tough road trip, but they know time is not on their side. Tampa Bay went 1-5 on a two-city road trip -- its worst since Aug. 2009 -- and fell a full five games behind the first-place Yankees in the American League East by dropping two of three in the Bronx this weekend.

The Rays put together a historic run last September, and they will need another surge to catch either New York for the division, or the Orioles, A's and Angels in the Wild Card race. The players and manager Joe Maddon admitted Sunday they now likely have to set their sights on one of the two AL Wild Card spots.

"We've got plenty of games left," Maddon said. "Other teams could lose, the Rays could win. It's probably a little more difficult now to see us winning the division, but nevertheless, the baseball gods have created two Wild Cards this year, so we'll see what happens. If we learned anything from last year, do not give up."

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

Tigers (Fister, 9-8) at White Sox (Quintana, 6-4), 2:10 p.m. Preview >

Orioles (Tillman, 7-2) at Mariners (Noesi, 2-11), 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 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

Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak.‬ This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.