MLB 1-Run Games: Mariners Assert Themselves as Best in Class

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.

Seattle Mariners

Record in One-Run Games: 21-12 (3-0 this week)

The Seattle Mariners had another perfect week in close games, extending their winning streak to seven straight games. That successful run has elevated them to the top spot in the majors, tied for the most victories in one-run contests. 

With three more wins, the Mariners improved their overall record to 21-12 for a 63.6% winning percentage. More impressively, Seattle has strung together wins in 14 straight games overall to move three games clear of the pack for a Wild Card berth. 

Pitching remains the backbone of their success, with the M’s staff ranking fifth in earned run average and seventh in walks and hits per inning pitched. However, they are prone to getting knocked around, giving up the fourth-most home runs in the MLB while sitting middle of the pack with an opponent’s batting average of .236.

Although winning that many close games is a good look, it’s also a substantial deviation from their overall winning percentage of 54.8%. The Mariners might face some bad luck to start the second half as their winning percentages balance out over the coming weeks.

Toronto Blue Jays

Record in One-Run Games: 21-14 (2-0 this week)

Wins were hard to come by for the Toronto Blue Jays for an extended stretch, but they head into the All-Star break on a modest three-game winning streak, with wins in five of their past six. Two more wins in close games were included in that, boosting their record to 21-14 on the season. 

This week, the Blue Jays’ pitchers stepped up in a big way, posting a cumulative 1.96 earned run average and striking out 47 across 46.0 innings. However, this was the exception and not the rule for their pitching staff, as they remain 18th in the MLB with a 3.97 earned run average. 

The Jays’ bats continue to deliver, putting up a .816 on-base plus slugging percentage over the last week, ranking third on the season. If they can get more consistent pitching, we could see Toronto emerge as a legitimate threat in the playoffs, but it will take a few more one-run wins to assure themselves of a postseason berth. 

New York Yankees

Record in One-Run Games: 19-11 (1-3 this week)

The MLB-leading New York Yankees got a taste of their own medicine this week, dropping three of six games, all of which came by one run. That reversed many of the gains they made in tightly contested affairs, dropping them to third in our one-run win rankings. 

The Yankees maintained their offensive dominance, slugging .484 over the past week, but their bullpen was victimized late in games. New York lost two of three against the lowly Cincinnati Reds, giving up ten runs in the eighth inning or later across all three contests. Similarly, they dropped an extra-innings loss to the Boston Red Sox in their series opener before storming back and winning the series’ final two games by a combined 27-3 score. 

Relief pitching has been one of the Yankees’ mightiest strengths all season. The bullpen ranks second in the majors with a 2.89 earned run average, allowing the fewest home runs and compiling the third-most saves. Aroldis Chapman’s return has upset the balance, but it’s likely just a temporary setback as they look to carry the momentum of their two most recent wins into the start of the unofficial second half.