White Sox Path to the Postseason: Sept. 28, 2012

White Sox Path to the Postseason: Sept. 28, 2012

White Sox Path to the Postseason: Sept. 28, 2012
CHICAGO -- Neither the White Sox nor the Rays were going to be eliminated from playoff contention by a loss in Thursday night's opener of a four-game set at U.S. Cellular Field. But Tampa Bay's 3-2 victory made life much tougher for the White Sox, who dropped two games behind the Tigers in the American League Central for the first time since May 25 when they were 2 1/2 games back.

Wells Fargo

It was a night of wasted opportunities for the White Sox, who finished 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base. It also was a night when just a couple of mistakes by starting pitcher Jake Peavy and losing pitcher Brett Myers resulted in the team's eighth loss in nine games.

While the Tigers travel to Target Field on Friday, trying to avenge the Twins' home doubleheader sweep last Sunday with Drew Smyly on the mound against Minnesota ace Scott Diamond, Gavin Floyd desperately tries to right this playoff ship that has run off course. Eighteen of their last 24 games have been decided by three runs or fewer, so expect another close one in the final stages of this successful but rough finishing 2012 campaign for the White Sox.

"We've done it before, it just hasn't worked for a little while now," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "It's not one guy, it's just that feeling. So it has to change. Just keep going."

"When you go through this, and we have, we went through this at times all season long, and when you go through it when there's games left to play, it's a whole lot easier when you feel like you have some time to make things up," Peavy said. "But when it happens here, when you're trying to win a division, of course it's frustrating."

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

Tigers (Smyly, 4-3) at Twins (Diamond, 12-8), 7:10 p.m. Preview >

Rays (Hellickson, 9-10) at White Sox (Floyd, 10-11), 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.