Nobody said reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2008 was going to be easy for the White Sox. Wednesday's results for both the American League Central-leading South Siders and the second-place Tigers reinforced that point.
Detroit easily dispensed the visiting A's, who are one of the two current AL Wild Card leaders, for a second straight night, riding six innings and 122 pitches worth of shutout ball from staff ace Justin Verlander. The news wasn't nearly as good for the White Sox in Kansas City, with Bruce Chen once again shutting them down in a 3-0 victory.
Chen improved to 6-2 over the last two years against the White Sox, while the South Siders finished 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base. The AL Central lead dipped to two, with Chicago finishing its series Thursday in Kansas City and then going to Anaheim this weekend for three. Detroit has one more with the A's and then hosts the Twins for three, but as the leader being chased, the White Sox don't need to worry about the Tigers.
"We're going to have to win no matter what, and that's our business," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura, whose team's magic number to eliminate the Tigers held at 13. "We can't sit and hope that somebody else takes care of it for us. We have to win and be able to do that. It's more difficult when you play like this."
Today's key games to watch (all times ET)
White Sox (Liriano, 6-11) at Royals (Guthrie, 4-3), 8:10 p.m. Preview >
A's (Milone, 13-10) at Tigers (Sanchez, 8-12), 1:05 p.m. Preview >
If the postseason started today ...
This is how the teams would match up: Postseason Bracket »
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.
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
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.