Rays' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 22, 2012

Rays' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 22, 2012

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays picked up their third straight win Friday, a 12-1 thrashing of the Blue Jays at Tropicana Field in the opening game of a weekend series.

The victory helped them keep pace with the American League East-leading Yankees, who lead by one game over the Orioles and 6 1/2 games over the Rays.

New York's win had a silver lining to it because it was against Oakland, the club that holds a 4 1/2-game advantage on Tampa Bay in the standings for the second Wild Card.

Tampa Bay's elimination sits at six games in the division and eight games in the Wild Card.

Manager Joe Maddon said he still has faith his team can get the job done.

"I totally, absolutely believe we can do this," Maddon said. "I firmly believe that. It's about a bunch of one-game winning streaks on our part. We're very capable, we have the pitching to do it."

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

Blue Jays (Morrow, 8-6) at Rays (Moore, 10-11), 7:10 p.m. Preview >

Twins (Deduno, 6-4) at Tigers (Fister, 9-9), 4:05 p.m. Preview >

A's (Blackley, 5-3) at Yankees (Nova, 12-7), 1:05 p.m. Preview >

Orioles (Wolf, 5-10) at Red Sox (Cook, 4-10), 1:10 p.m. Preview >

White Sox (Quintana, 6-4) at Angels (Haren, 11-11), 9:05 p.m. Preview >

Rangers (Harrison, 17-9) at Mariners (Beavan, 9-10), 9:10 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

Greg Zeck is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.