Path to the Postseason: Sept. 29, 2012

Path to the Postseason: Sept. 29, 2012

Path to the Postseason: Sept. 29, 2012
The fireworks kept coming in Friday night's games, making playoff races tighter than ever.

The Tigers' two-game lead in the American League Central was cut in half after they took a 4-2 loss to the Twins and the White Sox picked up a crucial 3-1 win over the Rays.

Ryan Doumit was a Tigers killer in Friday's game, plating four runs with two swings -- one a two-run homer, the other a two-run double, to send the Tigers off with a loss.

Wells Fargo

That made for a happy crowd in Chicago, where the White Sox got a big lift from their bullpen, with four shutout frames to end the Rays' eight-game winning streak. Alex Rios also hit a solo homer, his 25th of the season in the win.

"Anything can happen. We are right there. It could change tomorrow. Just one game," said Addison Reed, who picked up his 29th save in Friday's game. "We are not going to press or doing anything we can't control."

That loss for the Rays was a major blow to their AL Wild Card hopes, falling three games back of the A's for the second Wild Card spot. However, the Angels were able to keep pace with Oakland by beating Texas, 7-4, to stay two games back for the final AL playoff spot.

In the AL East, the Yankees were able to maintain their one-game lead over the Orioles thanks to an 11-4 win over the Blue Jays. Russell Martin continued his September surge by launching a big three-run homer to break open the game, and Hiroki Kuroda allowed just two run in 51/3 innings for his 15th win this season.

However, before their game ended, the Yankees couldn't help but notice Baltimore's 9-1 win over the Red Sox on the scoreboard in Toronto.

"It really doesn't affect how you go about your business," Martin said. "Obviously, we want them to lose as much as possible, but they don't really seem like they want to give in. It's going to be coming down to the wire, I think."

In the National League Wild Card race, the Cardinals pounded the Nationals by a score of 12-2 to stay three games ahead of the Dodgers for that final NL playoff spot. Los Angeles picked up an 8-0 win over the Rockies behind eight shutout innings from Clayton Kershaw.

And while the Reds have already locked up the NL Central crown, the team had something else to celebrate on Friday. Right-hander Homer Bailey twirled Cincinnati's first no-hitter since Tom Browning's perfect game in 1988. Bailey struck out 10 in the 1-0 win over the Pirates.

"I've thrown a bunch of no-hitters in my bullpen [sessions]," Bailey joked after the game. "What is no-hit stuff, really? There's a lot of things that go into it. ... So many things have to go in your favor. One little bloop, one miscue, one wrong positioning by an infielder, there's your hit. A lot of it just has to come down to luck. We were able to make good pitches but we were very fortunate, also."

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

Yankees (Pettitte, 5-3) at Blue Jays (Romero, 9-14), 1:07 p.m. Preview >
New York sends veteran left-hander Andy Pettitte to the hill hoping he can pad their one-game lead over the O's in the AL East.

Angels (Santana, 9-12) at Rangers (Holland, 11-6), 4:05 p.m. Preview >
Sitting two games back of the A's for the second AL Wild Card spot, the Halos turn to Ervin Santana.

Tigers (Verlander, 16-8) at Twins (Walters, 2-4), 4:05 p.m. Preview >
With a slim one-game lead over the White Sox in the AL Central, the Tigers send ace Justin Verlander to the hill.

Mariners (Vargas, 14-11) at A's (Straily, 2-1), 4:05 p.m. Preview >
The A's will try and put some distance between themselves and the Angels. Oakland holds a two-game lead over the Halos for the final AL playoff spot.

Rays (Moore, 10-11) at White Sox (Sale, 17-7), 4:05 p.m. Preview >
Both teams are in great need of a win. The Rays are currently three games back of the A's for the final AL Wild Card spot, while the White Sox are one game behind the Tigers in the AL Central.

Red Sox (Doubront, 11-9) at Orioles (Johnson, 4-0), 7:05 p.m. Preview >
Baltimore sits just one game behind the Yankees for the top spot in the AL East as Steve Johnson takes the hill.

Astros (Keuchel, 3-7) at Brewers (Estrada, 4-7), 7:10 p.m. Preview >
After a 7-6 loss to the Astros on Friday, the Brewers are on life support sitting five games back of the Cardinals for the second NL Wild Card spot.

Mets (Young, 4-8) at Braves (Minor, 10-10), 7:10 p.m. Preview >
The Braves look to Mike Minor as they get ready for postseason play.

Nationals (Zimmermann, 12-8) at Cardinals (Lohse, 16-3), 7:15 p.m. Preview >
After beating up on the Nationals on Friday by a score of 12-2, St. Louis looks to get one step closer to clinching a playoff berth. The Cards hold a three-game lead over the Dodgers for the final NL playoff spot.

Rockies (Chatwood, 5-5) at Dodgers (Blanton, 9-13), 10:10 p.m. Preview >
The Dodgers are three games back of the Cards for the second NL Wild Card Spot with just five games to play.

If the postseason started today ...

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Wild Card: A's at Orioles
Division Series: Yankees at Tigers | Rangers at Wild Card winner

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Wild Card: Cardinals at Braves
Division Series: Reds at Giants | Nationals at Wild Card winner

• For the 2012 postseason, the team with the better record will play the first two games on the road to start the Division Series.

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 games 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 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 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

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