MLB 1-Run Games: Yankees Assert Themselves in Close Games

Close games are an inevitable part of baseball and oftentimes 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 nailbiting 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: 15-7 (0-0 this week)

It was another successful week for the Toronto Blue Jays, going 4-2 since our last update with no one-run victories. Still, the Jays will be happy with their results as they have moved into second place in the AL East and remain the win-leaders in close games. 

Toronto’s offense did most of the heavy lifting this week. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the rest of the Jays’ batters have the best on-base plus slugging percentage over the past seven days, with a cumulative .985 rate. That propelled them to the most runs batted in and home runs, out-pacing the next closest team by five long balls.

There’s no slowing down the Blue Jays right now and the victories should continue to pile up. Albeit with most coming by more than one score. 

Milwaukee Brewers

Record in One-Run Games: 13-6 (1-1 this week)

The bad news for the Milwaukee Brewers — they ended the week 1-4. The good news for the Brew Crew, their lone victory came by one run, moving them up the leaderboard in close wins. That may not be the silver lining the Brewers were hoping for, but they can still take solace in their status as NL Central leaders. 

This week, the Brewers’ offense ran out of gas, putting up an embarrassing .555 on-base plus slugging percentage. Although their pitching has been great all season, their 3.86 earned run average wasn’t good enough to offset the anemic scoring. 

Milwaukee is comfortable winning close games, but they’ll need more out of their offense if they hope to maintain their division lead.

New York Yankees 

Record in One-Run Games: 11-4 (2-0 this week)

The MLB-leading New York Yankees finished off a perfect week in close games, knocking off two opponents by one run to move into a four-way tie for the third-most wins. 

This year, New York has been unmerciful, compiling a 39-15 record, including 11-4 in close games. This week is a shining example of their dominance, with the Yankees ending the week with the second-best on-base plus slugging percentage at .925 and the second-best earned run average of 1.17.

There are no brakes on this Yankees squad, and they can get past their opponents with offense or pitching. Their status as the league’s best could soon be reflected in our one-run rankings.

Houston Astros

Record in One-Run Games: 11-5 (1-0 this week)

The Houston Astros are trying to keep pace with the Yankees in the AL; however, their status on the one-run wins table is analogous to their position in the standings, as they remain close behind their intra-league rivals.

Houston played in just one close game this week, defeating the Oakland Athletics 5-4 in a mid-week affair on June 1. Since then, the Astros went 2-2 with an average margin of victory of 4.8 runs. The AL West leaders leaned into their offense over the last seven days, putting up the fourth-best on-base plus slugging percentage. Still, their pitching deficiencies sunk them, with their staff taking on water with their 4.91 earned run average. 

This week was the exception and not the rule when it comes to pitching, though, as the Astros sit atop the league in most categories. More close victories should be expected as their rotation works back up towards normal ranges.