D-backs' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 27, 2012

D-backs' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 27, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Cardinals gave the D-backs an opportunity to make up ground in the National League Wild Card race Wednesday night, but Arizona did not take advantage.

While the Cards lost to the Astros, the D-backs could not solve Matt Cain and the Giants as they dropped a 6-0 decision at AT&T Park.

So while the D-backs didn't drop a game in the standings -- they remain 5 1/2 games behind the Cardinals -- they lost a day off the calendar, and at this stage, that is just as bad.

There are just seven games left for the D-backs, and their elimination number is down to two. That means any combination of St. Louis wins or Arizona losses that equal two will end the D-backs' postseason hopes.

The soonest the D-backs could be eliminated is Friday night because while they play the Giants on Thursday, the Cardinals are off before opening a three-game series with the Nationals in St. Louis.

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

Brewers (Peralta, 2-1) at Reds (Latos, 13-4), 9:25 a.m. Preview >

Dodgers (Capuano, 11-11) at Padres (Kelly, 2-2), 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

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.