A's Path to the Postseason: Sept. 23, 2012

A's Path to the Postseason: Sept. 23, 2012

A's Path to the Postseason: Sept. 23, 2012
NEW YORK -- The A's put everything they had into Saturday's game ... and still lost. Oakland, the hottest team in the American League since the All-Star break, is playing through the valley of a cold streak over the last week, and it will have to turn things around soon if it hopes to secure a Wild Card slot.

Wells Fargo

Oakland has lost five of its last six games -- two straight in extra innings -- but can still rest, content in knowing that it has the best record of any AL team (42-23) in the second half. The A's still lead the Angels by 2 1/2 games for the last Wild Card slot.

The A's set two precedents Saturday, none of which they'd hope to repeat anytime soon. They hit three home runs in an extra inning for the first time, and they lost a game in which they held a four-run lead in extra innings for the first time. Still, said Jonny Gomes, a loss is just a loss at this point.

"Win by 20 or lose by 20, it really doesn't matter," said Gomes after the 14-inning setback. "Our back's not on the wall. If we lost, our season's not over. It wasn't Game 7 of the World Series."

Indeed, it was just another regular-season game, but a demoralizing one at that. The A's can turn things around with a victory over the Yankees on Sunday, and then they'll travel to Texas for a four-game series. The Rangers lead the A's in the West by four games.

Oakland will have another shot at Texas before the season is over, leaving the West up for grabs. The A's will play host to the Mariners for three games and the Rangers for three games in the season's final week. Clarity, at this point, is coming to the A's game by game and series by series.

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

A's (Griffin, 6-1) at Yankees (Kuroda, 14-10), 10:05 a.m. Preview >

Orioles (Tillman, 8-2) at Red Sox (Doubront, 11-9), 10:35 a.m. Preview >

White Sox (Floyd, 10-10) at Angels (Weaver, 18-4), 12:35 p.m. Preview >

Rangers (Dempster, 6-2) at Mariners (Vargas, 14-10), 1:10 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

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