Cardinals' Path to the Postseason: Oct. 2, 2012

Cardinals' Path to the Postseason: Oct. 2, 2012

Cardinals' Path to the Postseason: Oct. 2, 2012
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals had the champagne and beer on ice Monday night but will have to wait at least one more day to celebrate a second straight postseason berth.

Wells Fargo

With a 4-2 win over the Reds, St. Louis reduced its magic number to one for the second National League Wild Card. But with players and staff having stayed at Busch Stadium to watch, the Dodgers staved off elimination with a walk-off victory over the Giants.

The Cardinals' lead over the Dodgers remains two games, meaning that St. Louis needs just one win or one Los Angeles loss in the final two days of the regular season to seal a trip to Atlanta. The Braves have already earned the first Wild Card and will host the one-game playoff on Friday.

With its win on Monday, St. Louis did clinch at least a tie for the second Wild Card. Should the two teams finish with identical records, the Cardinals would have to fly to Los Angeles to play a tiebreaker game on Thursday.

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

Reds (Latos, 13-4) at Cardinals (Carpenter, 0-1), 8:15 p.m. Preview >

Giants (Zito, 14-8) at Dodgers (Capuano, 12-11), 10:10 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

Complete schedule »

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.