Orioles' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 13, 2012

Orioles' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 13, 2012

Orioles' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 13, 2012
The Orioles recorded their 80th win with Wednesday's 3-2 walk-off over the Tampa Bay Rays, ensuring that Baltimore -- which last hit the 80-win mark in 1997 -- keeps pace with the New York Yankees atop the American League East.

The O's may be in unfamiliar territory, but the team is 26-7 in one-run games and have been buoyed all season by a stout bullpen and an improved defense coinciding with the callup of top prospect Manny Machado. Baltimore has won 34 games against the AL East this season with 14 left to play, which includes Thursday's series finale with Tampa Bay.

"It's neat because almost daily you can kind of sense and feel the excitement growing a little bit," said Nate McLouth, who delivered the walk-off RBI single to score Machado in the ninth. "The crowds are almost like college football crowds, to be honest with you."

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

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

Yankees (Hughes, 14-12) at Red Sox (Doubront, 10-8), 7:10 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

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.