Cardinals' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 29, 2012

Cardinals' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 29, 2012

Cardinals' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 29, 2012
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals put a halt on the Nationals' move toward clinching a division title while also whittling down their own magic number to clinch a postseason berth with a 12-2 victory on Friday night. The Cards' magic number now sits at three.

"I think our team is coming together nicely," said Adam Wainwright, now a 14-game winner. "We've been playing good ball for the last couple of weeks and will be a very dangerous team if we get in there."

The Cardinals' win officially knocked Philadelphia and Arizona from the race for the second Wild Card, leaving only Los Angeles and Milwaukee in pursuit. The Brewers, however, are hardly hanging in, as their loss to the Astros on Friday pushes them five games back of St. Louis. There are only five games left on the regular-season schedule.

The Dodgers trail the Cardinals by three games.

"It's really exciting being home down the stretch and in the driver's seat," Allen Crag said after his four-hit night Friday. "It's a good feeling."

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

Nationals (Zimmermann, 12-8) at Cardinals (Lohse, 16-3), 7:15 p.m. Preview >

Rockies (Chatwood, 5-5) at Dodgers (Blanton, 9-13), 10:10 p.m. Preview >

Astros (Keuchel, 3-7) at Brewers (Estrada, 4-7), 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.