Rays' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 24, 2012

Rays' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 24, 2012

Rays' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 24, 2012
With its 3-0 shutout against Toronto on Sunday, Tampa Bay was able to pick up a weekend sweep and win its fifth straight game.

Meanwhile, the Athletics' victory over the Yankees came as a mixed blessing for the Rays. In the Wild Card standings, the Rays stayed 3 1/2 games behind the A's, but the deficit in the American League East shrank to 5 1/2 games. Baltimore, which holds the first Wild Card slot, lost to the Red Sox and saw its lead over Tampa Bay reduced to 4 1/2 games. Tampa Bay's elimination sits steady at just five games in the division, but fell to seven games in the Wild Card.

B.J. Upton, who cranked a solo shot in Sunday's win, said the Rays must continue to focus on themselves and not worry about the standings.

"We're not worried about what the other teams are doing, we're just going out and winning and seeing what happens," Upton said. "They keep saying we're '162 Strong,' but that's what it is. We'll finish it out and you never know."

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

Game 1: Blue Jays (Alvarez, 9-13) at Orioles (S. Johnson, 3-0), 4:05 p.m. Preview >

Game 2: Blue Jays (Romero, 8-14) at Orioles (Chen, 12-9), Preview >

Royals (Hochevar, 8-14) at Tigers (Verlander, 15-8), 7:05 p.m. Preview >

A's (Straily, 2-1) at Rangers (Holland, 11-6), 8:05 p.m. Preview >

Indians (McAllister, 5-8) at White Sox (Sale, 17-7), 8:10 p.m. Preview >

Yankees (Pettitte, 4-3) at Twins (Hendriks, 1-7), 8:10 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

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