Rays' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 28, 2012

Rays' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 28, 2012

Rays' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 28, 2012
CHICAGO -- Tampa Bay took a 3-2 win over Chicago on Thursday night to take its eighth consecutive win while edging closer in the standings to Oakland, which holds the second American League Wild Card spot.

Wells Fargo

The Athletics and the Angels both lost on Thursday and the Orioles, who hold the first Wild Card spot, were idle. All of that activity left the Rays tied with the Angels and trailing the Athletics by two games.

The AL East-leading Yankees lost Thursday, which allowed the Rays to move to within four games of the division lead. The Rays are three games away from being eliminated from winning the division title.

On Friday night, the Orioles will host the Red Sox, the Athletics will again host the Mariners and the Rangers will host the Angels while the Rays play the second game of a four-game series against the White Sox.

"It's one game," said Rays slugger Evan Longoria about Thursday night's win. "I hate to kind of bring down the mood. But it doesn't put us ahead, it brings us a little closer, but it doesn't guarantee anything. ... So we just enjoy it tonight and come back tomorrow and try to win another one."

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

Red Sox (Cook, 4-10) at Orioles (Tillman, 8-2), 7:05 p.m. Preview >

Yankees (Kuroda, 14-11) at Blue Jays (Jenkins, 0-2), 7:07 p.m. Preview >

Angels (Weaver, 19-4) at Rangers (Dempster, 7-2), 8:05 p.m. Preview >

Rays (Hellickson, 9-10) at White Sox (Floyd, 10-11), 8:10 p.m. Preview >

Mariners (Beavan, 10-10) at A's (Griffin, 6-1), 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

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.