A's Path to the Postseason: Sept. 21, 2012

A's Path to the Postseason: Sept. 21, 2012

A's Path to the Postseason: Sept. 21, 2012
DETROIT -- Behind an offensive outburst, the A's were able to defeat the Tigers, 12-4, at Comerica Park on Thursday afternoon and avoid being swept. Meanwhile, they moved to a first-place tie with the Orioles in the American League Wild Card race.

With the Orioles off on Thursday, the two will remain deadlocked until at least Friday. However, both teams have a comfortable lead over the other Wild Card contenders, and for both the magic number to clinch is nine games.

The Angels are closest at 4 1/2 games back after falling on Thursday night against the Rangers. The A's, four games behind the Rangers in the AL West, have plenty of time to make up that deficit, as they have six games remaining against Texas.

"It doesn't matter if we were 10 games up or 10 games back, we're going to try to take it one day at a time and try to win tomorrow's game," outfielder Seth Smith said. "Honestly, that's how we go about our business."

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

A's (Parker, 11-8) at Yankees (Sabathia, 13-6), 7:05 p.m. Preview >

Orioles (Gonzalez, 6-4) at Red Sox (Lester, 9-12), 7:10 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

Anthony Odoardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.