As recently as Saturday morning, the Brewers were only 1 1/2 games behind the Cardinals. But after three losses in four days to the playoff-bound Nationals and Reds, the Brewers are on the edge of elimination. The Cardinals, meanwhile, have been beating up on the Cubs and Astros.
"It worked good for [the Cardinals], schedule-wise," Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez said. "We're playing the best two teams, they're playing the worst two teams."
Asked to ponder a scenario in which the Brewers fall short of the postseason, Ramirez said: "At least we were playing for something besides finishing strong and putting up good numbers. We were playing to win. We were playing for something, and that's all you can ask for. At this point, it hasn't worked out, but we've still got a chance."
Wednesday's key games to watch (all times ET)
Brewers (Marcum, 5-4) at Reds (Arroyo, 12-8), 7:10 p.m. Preview >
Cardinals (Carpenter, 0-0) at Astros (Norris, 5-13), 8:05 p.m. Preview >
Dodgers (Harang, 9-10) at Padres (Richard, 14-12), 6:35 p.m. Preview >
If the postseason started today ...
This is how the teams would match up: Postseason Bracket »
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.
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