Rangers' Path to the Postseason: Oct. 3, 2012

Rangers' Path to the Postseason: Oct. 3, 2012

Rangers' Path to the Postseason: Oct. 3, 2012
OAKLAND -- The Rangers have one game left in the season. They are going to the playoffs. But they don't know what direction, and the final day will determine that.

The Rangers play first on Wednesday afternoon, then they will see how the Yankees do against the Red Sox and the Orioles do against the Rays. That will determine where they go next, and it's all based on everybody's final record.

The Yankees enter the day with the best record in the league at 94-67, while the Rangers, Orioles and Athletics are at 93-68.

Let's start with the Rangers beating the Athletics and winning the division. If that happens and the Yankees win, the Rangers will be the No. 2 seed in the AL and will open up a best-of-five series with the Tigers on Saturday in Detroit.

If the Yankees and the Orioles both lose, the Rangers will still be the No. 2 seed and play Detroit on Saturday. They will be tied with the Yankees for the best record. But the Yankees will be AL East champs and win the tiebreaker because they took four of seven from the Rangers during the season.

The only way the Rangers can be the No. 1 seed is if the Orioles win the AL East. For that to happen, the Yankees must lose Wednesday and the Orioles must win, forcing a one-game tiebreaker to determine the AL East winner that is won by Baltimore. Then the top-seed Rangers would open a best-of-five series against the winner of New York and Oakland in the Wild Card on Sunday.

If the Rangers lose, they will go into the postseason as one of the two Wild Card teams. If the Yankees are the other Wild Card team, the Rangers will have to win in New York to advance to the ALDS. If the Orioles are the other Wild Card team, the Rangers' travel plans will depends on whether the Orioles' final record. Texas holds a tiebreaker with Baltimore and would host the Wild Card game should they both fall Wednesday, but the Orioles could win Wednesday and still end up a Wild Card team, in which case, the Rangers would head to Baltimore.

Wells Fargo

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

Rangers (Dempster, 12-8) at A's (Griffin, 7-1), 3:35 p.m. Preview >

Orioles (Tillman, 9-2) at Rays (Hellickson, 9-11), 7:10 p.m. Preview >

Red Sox (Matsuzaka, 1-6) at Yankees (Kuroda, 15-11), 7:05 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 »

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.