Braves' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 17, 2012

Braves' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 17, 2012

ATLANTA -- Entering their weekend series against the Nationals, it appeared anything short of a sweep would all but end the Braves' chances at coming back to win the National League East. But after Sunday's 5-1 victory that completed a three-game sweep, the Braves are now 5 1/2 games back of the Nationals with 15 to play.

After the Braves suffered a September collapse a season ago, second baseman Dan Uggla said they know anything can happen in a pennant race.

"This kind of put us back in the hunt a little bit," Uggla said. "We're still going to need some magic. But there's still time, so we'll see what happens."

The Braves continue to hold a commanding lead in the NL Wild Card race. Their victory Sunday cut their magic number for clinching a spot in the postseason to eight.

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

Braves (Hudson, 14-6) at Marlins (LeBlanc, 2-4), 7:10 p.m. Preview>

Phillies (Lee, 5-7) at Mets (Dickey, 18-5), 7:10 p.m. Preview >

Pirates (Correia, 10-9) at Cubs (Wood, 6-11), 8:10 p.m. Preview >

Rockies (Chacin, 2-5) at Giants (Bumgarner 14-10), 10:15 p.m. Preview >

If the postseason started today ...

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Wild Card: Second Wild Card at First Wild Card
Division Series: Second-best AL record vs. Third-best AL record | Best AL record at Wild Card winner

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Wild Card: Second Wild Card at First Wild Card
Division Series: Second-best NL record vs. Third-best NL record | Best NL record at Wild Card winner

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

Teddy Cahill is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.