MLB 1-Run Games: Blue Jays Slide Exacerbated by Close Losses

Close games are an inevitable part of baseball and often the difference between making the postseason and enjoying an extended offseason. Of the ten playoff teams from 2021, only three finished with a losing record in one-run games, and all but one of those teams won at least 20 one-run games on their way to the postseason. Finding a way to nail-biting victories is an indicator of long-term success.

As such, we’ll be keeping a running tally on which teams have the most one-run wins throughout the season.

Toronto Blue Jays

Record in One-Run Games: 19-14 (1-2 this week)

Another losing week for the Toronto Blue Jays, who lost valuable ground in the AL Wild Card race after a four-game sweep at the hands of the Seattle Mariners. Included were two close losses, bumping the Jays to 19-14 in one-run games.

Consistency has been the Jays’ downfall this season. Their bats have been great but prone to cold spells, while the pitching has been consistently subpar. That’s part of what made this week so frustrating for the AL East contenders; pitching was the best it’s been in weeks; however, Blue Jays’ hitters were ineffective at the plate, with a .678 on-base plus slugging percentage while scoring an MLB-worst 13 runs.

Toronto’s only win this week was a 2-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics, buoying them as the top team in one-run wins. However, they have the worst winning percentage among the top three teams and have been spiraling downward for the past few weeks. This week could be their final with the most wins, with two teams beneath them in our rankings closing in fast. 

New York Yankees

Record in One-Run Games: 18-8 (1-1 this week)

It was an atypical week for the New York Yankees, going 3-3 over the past seven days, including 1-1 in games decided by a single score. The Yankees got a taste of their own medicine against one of their hated rivals, with the Boston Red Sox mounting two comebacks in the same game on Saturday. 

In that contest, the Yankees led 3-2, heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, only to give up a game-tying single to Alex Verdugo. Then, New York staked themselves to a two-run lead in the tenth before they were walked off on another Verdugo base hit. It was an unfamiliar feeling for the MLB leaders, as they dropped just their eighth close loss on the season.

Still, the Yankees are tied for the second-most wins in one-run games, posting the best winning percentage in the bigs. Their performances in close games are analogous to their success on the season, compiling a 70.9% winning percentage overall, including 69.2% in tightly contested affairs.  

Seattle Mariners

Record in One-Run Games: 18-12 (2-0 this week)

The Mariners’ upward trend continued this week, with the team going a perfect 5-0 over the past seven days, including 2-0 in close games. That helped them overtake the Blue Jays in the AL Wild Card race and move within one win of them for most one-run victories this season.

Pitching has been the hallmark of the M’s success. Seattle ended the week with a 2.37 earned run average, allowing 45 hits across 47.0 innings while striking out 41. That has elevated them to the best in the majors over the last 30 days with a 2.53 earned run average, with the fourth-fewest walks and hits per inning pitched. 

There’s no end in sight for the Mariners’ recent uptick as they head into the All-Star break with a couple of series against two ineffective offensive teams. First, they visit the Washington Nationals, who have recorded the fifth-fewest runs in the MLB. Then, they wrap up the unofficial first half of the season with a four-game set against their division rivals, the Texas Rangers. Texas ranks 15th in the majors in on-base plus slugging percentage and runs and has lost six of their past ten. The Mariners could head into the break with the most close wins on the season.