A's Path to the Postseason: Sept. 13, 2012

A's Path to the Postseason: Sept. 13, 2012

A's Path to the Postseason: Sept. 13, 2012
By securing their third straight victory over the Angels and sixth consecutive overall on Wednesday, by way of a 4-1 decision, Oakland has now won 21 of its last 26 and 39 of 56 since the All-Star break, all the while improving to a season-high 22 games over .500. In the American League West, the A's remain three games back of the division-leading Rangers, who won their second straight Wednesday. Texas' magic number is 18.

The Angels, meanwhile, now sit 5 1/2 games behind the A's heading into Thursday's four-game series finale. And, on Friday, Oakland's challenging September schedule brings the Orioles to town for a three-game set, which will be followed by a grueling 10-game venture through Detroit, New York and Texas.

But the A's are up for the challenge, thanks to one of the game's best pitching staffs and a revitalized offense.

"I mean, it's hard not to recognize we're winning ballgames, but I think this team's mentality has been the same over the last few months, just taking it one game at a time and trying to win every game," catcher Derek Norris said. "Good pitching beats good hitting. You see that in the playoffs every year. I feel like, with our pitching staff, we can compete against any lineup, and we've proven that so far."

Today's key games to watch (all times PT)

A's (Anderson, 4-0-6) at Angels (Weaver, 16-4), 12:35 p.m. Preview >

Rays (Hellickson, 8-10) at Baltimore (Chen, 12-9), 9:35 a.m. Preview >

Yankees (Hughes, 14-12) at Red Sox (Doubront, 8-10), 4:10 p.m. Preview >

Indians (McAllister, 5-7) at Rangers (Holland, 10-6, 8-10), 5:05 p.m. Preview >

Tigers (Verlander, 13-8) at White Sox (Sale, 16-6), 5:10 p.m. Preview >

If the postseason started today ...

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Wild Card: Second Wild Card at First Wild Card
Division Series: Second-best AL record vs. Third-best AL record | Best AL record at Wild Card winner

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Wild Card: Second Wild Card at First Wild Card
Division Series: Second-best NL record vs. Third-best NL record | Best NL record at Wild Card winner

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

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.