Rangers' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 21, 2012

Rangers' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 21, 2012

Rangers' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 21, 2012
ANAHEIM -- The Rangers maintained their firm grip on the American League West with a stirring 3-1 decision over the Angels on Thursday night, taking the series after dropping the opening game on Tuesday night.

Wells Fargo

Yu Darvish was brilliant for eight innings, yielding one run on four hits with nine strikeouts, and Adrian Beltre -- once again showing his toughness -- ignored a gastrointestinal ailment to unload the game-winning, two-run homer in the top of the ninth against closer Ernesto Frieri.

The A's remain four games off the Rangers' pace with 13 to play. Texas and Oakland have seven games left to play against each other. The Angels are 4 1/2 in back of the A's.

"I don't think about the Angels," said Beltre, who hopes to join his teammates in Seattle around game time on Friday night after making a doctor's appointment in Los Angeles at 10 a.m. PT. "I only worry about the Rangers. We have a job to take care of."

Texas manager Ron Washington, having watched his team win its ninth series in the past 10, echoed his Gold Glove third baseman's sentiments.

"I don't count anything about the Angels," Washington said. "You can never count anybody out until the last game's played. Right now we're moving on to Seattle. We're through with the Angels, so I've got no thoughts on them."

The Rangers are in excellent position to claim the best record in the AL for home-field advantage throughout the postseason. They have a three-game lead over the AL East-leading Yankees.

"Time's running out," Washington said. "Every game is big now."

The Rangers are 9-7 against the Mariners and 3-3 in Seattle. Josh Hamilton returned to Texas for a team examination on his sinus infection and is not expected to be available on Friday night.

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

Rangers (Perez, 1-1) at Mariners (Iwakuma, 6-5), 10:10 p.m. Preview >

A's (Parker, 11-8) at Yankees (Sabathia, 13-6), 7:05 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

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