Giants' Path to the Postseason, Sept. 21, 2012

Giants' Path to the Postseason, Sept. 21, 2012

Giants' Path to the Postseason, Sept. 21, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants crept to the brink of clinching their second National League West title in three years on Thursday, as they completed a four-game sweep of Colorado with a 9-2 victory while the Dodgers lost to Washington, 4-1.

That lengthened the Giants' division lead to 10 games and, more importantly, trimmed their magic number for clinching the division to three.

It seems almost inevitable that the Giants will wrap up the division during the remaining six games of their 10-game homestand. They've won eight of their last nine games approaching Friday night's series opener against the San Diego Padres -- who have improved considerably since San Francisco last faced them Aug. 17-19.

"We are happy, but we're not satisfied," said Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who homered from both sides of the plate on Thursday. "We're loose, we're having fun, but we have to keep fighting. It's not over yet."

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

Dodgers (Blanton, 1-4) at Reds (Arroyo, 12-8), 7:10 p.m. Preview >

Padres (Kelly, 2-1) at Giants (Vogelsong, 12-9), 10:15 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

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