Phillies' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 21, 2012

Phillies' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 21, 2012

NEW YORK -- The Phillies keep winning.

Unfortunately for them, so do the Cardinals.

The Phillies remain four games behind the Cardinals for the second National League Wild Card with just 12 games to play following Thursday's 16-1 victory over the Mets at Citi Field. Even if the Phillies finish 9-3, they will need the Cardinals to finish no better than 5-7 just to tie. But remember, even if Philadelphia keeps winning and St. Louis inexplicably collapses, the Phillies still need the Dodgers and Brewers to lose, too. The Phillies are alive, but barely.

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

Cardinals (Carpenter, 0-0) at Cubs (Volstad, 3-10), 2:20 p.m. Preview >

Braves (Hanson, 12-8) at Phillies (Kendrick, 9-11), 7:05 p.m. Preview >

Brewers (Marcum, 5-4) at Nationals (Jackson, 9-10), 7:05 p.m. Preview >

Dodgers (Blanton, 1-4) at Reds (Arroyo, 12-8), 7:10 p.m. Preview >

Pirates (Locke, 0-1) at Astros (Gonzalez, 2-1), 8:05 p.m. Preview >

D-backs (Miley, 15-10) at Rockies (Pomeranz, 1-9), 8:10 p.m. Preview >

Padres (Kelly, 2-1) at Giants (Vogelsong, 12-9), 10:15 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

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.