DETROIT -- One day after the Tigers put themselves in position where they could pay attention to a magic number for clinching their second consecutive American League Central title, they dropped the number to five with a 5-4 walk-off win over the Royals and a White Sox loss on Thursday.
Just about as important, the Tigers built up the feeling that they control their fate. Chicago dropped two games back in the division race.
"Of course it feels good to look up there and see what the standings are," Detroit reliever Phil Coke said. "But at the same time, you never know what's going to happen in this game. I've said that a million times this year, and a lot of people might not want to believe me, but it's baseball. Anything can happen."
They're not relaxing, but they're not tensing up, either.
"It feels like a month-long playoff," Coke said. "I think all that is really priming us for when it actually is here, and everybody's hungry."
Friday's key games to watch (all times ET)
Tigers (Smyly, 4-3) at Twins (Diamond, 12-8), 8:10 p.m. Preview >
Rays (Hellickson, 9-10) at White Sox (Floyd, 10-11), 8:10 p.m. Preview >
If the postseason started today ...
This is how the teams would match up: Postseason Bracket »
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.
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.