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Tigers' Path to the Postseason: Oct. 1, 2012

Tigers' Path to the Postseason: Oct. 1, 2012

Tigers' Path to the Postseason: Oct. 1, 2012
MINNEAPOLIS -- The music was blaring in the visiting clubhouse at Target Field in the wake of the Tigers' comeback win Sunday. For a minute or two, though, the voices were quiet.

One after another, everybody passing through the clubhouse noticed the one television that had Fernando Rodney's face on it, staring down White Sox pinch-hitter Orlando Hudson with two outs in the ninth inning and a 6-2 lead.

As plate umpire Tom Hallion raised his arm for a called third strike on a changeup at the belt, reducing Detroit's magic number to one for clinching the American League Central, the clubhouse erupted. One player yelled out Rodney's favorite line from White Sox broadcaster Hawk Harrelson: "He gone!"

Another player had a spot-on impression of Rodney's bow-and-arrow save celebration, a move he didn't have when he was closing games for Detroit three years ago.

Just as quickly, the Tigers went back to their business. They had a flight to Kansas City to catch, and a division title to try to wrap up.

"It doesn't change the mentality or the approach. Absolutely not," catcher Alex Avila said. "It makes for a happy flight, and obviously, now we know that if we win one, we're in. Let's take care of business. That's the mentality."

That seemed to be the prevailing opinion.

"We have to wait," said closer Jose Valverde. "It's not over yet. I want to win already, but you never know. Baseball's so crazy."

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

Tigers (Porcello, 9-12) at Royals (Chen, 11-13), 8:10 p.m. Preview >

White Sox (Hector Santiago, 3-1) at Indians (Kluber, 2-4), 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

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"content":["path_to_the_postseason" ] }