MINNEAPOLIS -- The Yankees earned a little extra breathing room atop the American League East on Monday -- at least more than they've been used to.
New York's 6-3 series-opening win over the Twins at Target Field -- combined with Baltimore's 9-5 loss in the nightcap of its doubleheader with Toronto -- meant the Yankees took a 1 1/2-game division lead into Tuesday's action. It snapped a 21-day streak in which the Yankees and Orioles were separated by no more than one game in the standings.
The Yankees have won 10 of their last 12 games but will need to continue to take advantage of a soft season-ending schedule, as their nine remaining games come against the Twins, Blue Jays and Red Sox, who are a combined 61 games below .500.
"Any time you can pick that [lead] up, it's great," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We've been so close, really, since about Sept. 1. So any day you can do that, it's great."
Tuesday's key games to watch (all times ET)
Royals (Chen, 11-12) at Tigers (Sanchez, 3-6), 7:05 p.m. Preview >
Blue Jays (Laffey, 3-6) at Orioles (Saunders, 2-2), 7:05 p.m. Preview >
Rays (Price, 18-5) at Red Sox (Buchholz, 8-9), 7:10 p.m. Preview >
A's (Milone, 13-10) at Rangers (Darvish, 16-9), 8:05 p.m. Preview >
Yankees (Hughes, 16-12) at Twins (Vasquez, 0-2), 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
Jordan Garretson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.