Tigers' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 25, 2012

Tigers' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 25, 2012

Tigers' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 25, 2012
DETROIT -- Put whatever number you want in the American League Central. Small or large, the way things have gone for the Tigers the last couple nights, that one-game gap is taking on the feeling of a gulf.

It was down to a half-game before Sunday's doubleheader sweep to the Twins, but Justin Verlander's eight strong innings to post a 6-2 win over the Royals had put them in line to erase it altogether if the Indians could hold down their early lead in Chicago. Adam Dunn's three-run home run in the eighth inning erased those hopes instead, keeping the White Sox a game up with a 5-4 win.

Now the pressure falls on the Tigers to hold up their end against Royals left-hander Bruce Chen, who tossed eight scoreless innings Aug. 29 for his fourth win over the Tigers in the last three years. If Detroit can pull out a win, it'll be up to the White Sox to beat Cleveland with the unpredictable Francisco Liriano on the mound.

That's what Verlander is counting on.

"It's not like every game's a must-win, but it's getting close to that point," he said Monday. "It's a lot of pressure on us, but I think this team thrives under pressure. And if we start winning a few of these ballgames that switches everything and puts the pressure on the White Sox."

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

Indians (Kluber, 1-4) at White Sox (Liriano, 3-1), 2:10 p.m. Preview >

Royals (Chen, 11-12) at Tigers (Sanchez, 3-6), 7:05 p.m. Preview >

Blue Jays (Laffey, 3-6) at Orioles (Saunders, 2-2), 7:05 p.m. Preview >

Rays (Price, 18-5) at Red Sox (Buchholz, 8-9), 7:10 p.m. Preview >

A's (Milone, 13-10) at Rangers (Darvish, 16-9), 8:05 p.m. Preview >

Yankees (Hughes, 16-12) at Twins (Vasquez, 0-2), 8:10 p.m. Preview >

Mariners (Ramirez, 1-2) at Angels (Greinke, 14-5), 10:05 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

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.