It appeared as if New York would enter the final day of the regular season tied with the Orioles atop the American League East after Baltimore won its game against Tampa Bay, but New York rallied to remain in control of its own destiny.
A Yankees win or Orioles loss gives New York the division title, but should Baltimore win and the Yanks lose, the teams would play a one-game playoff Thursday at Camden Yards, with the Orioles earning home-field advantage due to their record against AL East opponents. The Yankees and Orioles went 9-9 against each other this season.
Should the Yankees win Wednesday, they would also secure the best record in the AL and home-field advantage until the World Series.
"If you win, you win the division -- that's the bottom line," said manager Joe Girardi. "We have a chance to have the best record, and that's the bottom line. That's a good feeling that you can control that."
Wednesday's key games to watch (all times ET)
Rangers (Dempster, 12-8) at A's (Griffin, 7-1), 3:35 p.m. Preview >
Red Sox (Matsuzaka, 1-6) at Yankees (Kuroda, 15-11), 7:05 p.m. Preview >
Orioles (Chris Tillman, 9-2) at Rays (Hellickson, 9-11), 7:10 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.
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
Steven Miller is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.