DETROIT -- Manager Jim Leyland set the scene soon after the Tigers tied up the American League Central on Tuesday night.
"Then there was eight," he said. "We thought all along it was going to be a dogfight, and it is."
Their summer-long race with the White Sox atop the division is down to an eight-game sprint after Anibal Sanchez's 2-0 shutout of the Royals and the Indians' 4-3 win at Chicago.
The Tigers have two more games against the Royals to close out their home schedule before hitting the road against Minnesota this weekend. The White Sox close out their series with Cleveland on Wednesday night, then welcome the AL Wild Card-contending Rays for a four-game series that could make or break both of them.
"We have to focus on our game, our plans," Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera said. "We have to focus on what we're going to do in the field. We're tied right now. We don't have to look at the White Sox if they win or lose, but worry about our winning."
Wednesday's key games to watch (all times ET)
Royals (Guthrie, 7-12) at Tigers (Porcello, 9-12), 7:05 p.m. Preview >
Indians (Masterson, 11-15) at White Sox (Santiago, 3-1), 8:10 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