Orioles' Path to the Postseason: Oct. 2, 2012

Orioles' Path to the Postseason: Oct. 2, 2012

Orioles' Path to the Postseason: Oct. 2, 2012
ST. PETERSBURG -- While Baltimore took the field Monday night controlling its positioning -- and owning home-field advantage in a potential tiebreaker game with the Yankees -- a series-opening 5-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays could have major implications in an incredibly close American League East race.

The defeat, which snapped a five-game win streak over the Rays, puts the Orioles a full game back of the Yankees -- who pounded the Boston Red Sox -- with just two regular-season games remaining. It also pulled the O's and A's -- who have both clinched postseason berths -- into a tie for the two AL Wild Card spots.

Wells Fargo

If the A's and the Orioles were to tie for the two Wild Card spots, Oakland owns the tiebreaker in winning the season series between the two clubs and would host the game.

"We don't care [about the Yankees]," Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said. "We didn't take care of our business. We can't control other people. We lost. That's something we had control over. When it comes to the Yankees, you can't control them, can't control whether they win or lose."

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

Orioles (Gonzalez, 8-4) at Rays (Shields, 15-9), 7:10 p.m. Preview >

Red Sox (Lester, 9-14) at Yankees (David Phelps, 4-4), 7:05 p.m. Preview >

Rangers (Harrison, 18-10) at A's (Blackley, 5-4), 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

Complete schedule »

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.