Phillies' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 20, 2012

Phillies' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 20, 2012

Phillies' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 20, 2012
NEW YORK -- The Phillies needed a miracle Wednesday, and they got one.

Ryan Howard hit a two-out, two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning in a 3-2 victory over the Mets at Citi Field. It kept the Phillies four games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the second National League Wild Card with 13 games to play.

The Phillies will need more miracles to make the postseason for a sixth consecutive year, but they still have a chance. However, even if the Phils finish 10-3, the Cardinals would need to finish no better than 6-7 to tie.

And that does not include the cooperation they also need from the Dodgers and Brewers, who separate the Phillies and Cardinals in the Wild Card standings.

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

Phillies (Cloyd, 1-1) at Mets (Hefner, 2-6), 7:10 p.m. Preview >

Astros (Norris, 5-12) at Cardinals (Garcia, 4-7), 1:45 p.m. Preview >

Brewers (Fiers, 9-8) at Pirates (Rodriguez, 11-13), 7:05 p.m. Preview >

Dodgers (Capuano, 11-10) at Nationals (Detwiler, 9-6), 7:05 p.m. Preview >

Padres (Richard, 13-12) at D-backs (Skaggs, 1-2), 3:40 p.m. Preview >

If the postseason started today ...

This is how the teams would match up: 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

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.