White Sox Path to the Postseason: Sept. 27, 2012

White Sox Path to the Postseason: Sept. 27, 2012

White Sox Path to the Postseason: Sept. 27, 2012
CHICAGO -- The White Sox have been here before, as recently as July 18-22, when they lost five in a row and slipped 1 1/2 games behind the Tigers in the American League Central. The only difference was the White Sox had 67 games to turn around the season at that point.

Wells Fargo

But even facing their first division deficit since July 23, the White Sox enter their final home set against the red-hot Rays believing fortunes can change quickly and so can the Tigers' one-game lead.

"Obviously, now you need help. Even if you win out, they can win out, and it doesn't work," White Sox captain Paul Konerko said. "That's about it.

"You're talking about a game lead, a two-game [swing], everything is so fragile. You talk about the momentum swings that can happen. This is one of them, the wrong way. It doesn't mean in two days it doesn't swing the other way. That's what you hang your hat on."

Tampa Bay rides a seven-game winning streak into town and a three-game deficit in the AL Wild Card race. Much like the White Sox, they really can't afford to lose in these upcoming four games in Chicago. Jake Peavy takes the mound looking to work deep into the game and build on his 2.27 ERA over his last seven home starts. James Shields gets the call for the Rays.

Guess work won't be involved for the White Sox in regard to the Tigers' result against Kansas City. The two teams meet at 12:05 p.m. CT in the Comerica Park regular-season finale, with Doug Fister and Luis Mendoza on the mound.

Thursday's key games to watch (all times CT)

Royals (Mendoza, 8-9) at Tigers (Fister, 10-9), 12:05 p.m. Preview >

Rays (Shields, 15-9) at White Sox (Peavy, 11-12), 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

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.