Cardinals' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 26, 2012

Cardinals' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 26, 2012

Cardinals' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 26, 2012
HOUSTON -- Four of the five National League playoff spots have been taken, and the Cardinals have positioned themselves well to soon nab the other.

St. Louis continues to pick on the Astros, beating them for the 10th straight game and the fifth time in the last eight days. With Tuesday's 4-0 win, the Cardinals sit 4 1/2 games in front of the Brewers and Dodgers. The D-backs and Phillies are 5 1/2 games back.

"We have a lead," Cardinals center fielder Jon Jay said. "If the season ended today, we'd be right where we'd want to be."

The Cardinals will get one more game against the 105-loss Astros before facing a pair of playoff-bound clubs in the Nationals and Reds during the team's final regular-season homestand.

Wells Fargo

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

Cardinals (Carpenter, 0-0) at Astros (Norris, 5-13), 8:05 p.m. Preview >

Dodgers (Harang, 9-10) at Padres (Richard, 14-12), 6:35 p.m. Preview >

Brewers (Marcum, 5-4) at Reds (Arroyo, 12-8), 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

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.