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.
Record in One-Run Games: 28-17 (0-1 this week)
Apparently, the momentum the Seattle Mariners built in winning close games can be stopped. The M’s went just 0-1 in one-run games since our last check-in but remain the league leaders with 28 wins. Of course, losing one-run games didn’t prevent the Mariners from improving their position in the standings. Seattle went 7-1, meaning their only loss was the 3-2 defeat they suffered at the hands of the Chicago White Sox.
Mariners pitching continues to do most of the heavy lifting, compiling a 1.13 earned run average over the past seven days. That’s taken the pressure off the offense to perform, with their subpar .698 on-base plus slugging percentage on the year, which fell modestly to .693 over their recent stretch.
The following week could test the Mariners’ resilience, as they face some imposing squads from the National League. First, they host the 85-win Atlanta Braves before Juan Soto and the San Diego Padres invade for a quick two-game set. With both series occurring in their friendly confines, we could see the Mariners sustain their current form, as they have the sixth-best earned run average at home this season.
Toronto Blue Jays
Record in One-Run Games: 27-17 (1-0 this week)
Playoff-hopeful teams in the American League can’t afford to lose games right now, let alone go on an extended slide. The Wild Card teams continue to win, leaving no edge for the teams beneath them trying to catch them in the standings. The Toronto Blue Jays are among those teams, going 6-2 since last Tuesday, including 1-0 in one-run contests.
The Jays are on the opposite end of the spectrum than the Mariners, deferring to offensive firepower to secure victories. Toronto was mashing again this week, posting a .463 slugging percentage while compiling the second-most hits in the majors. However, their staff was putting in work this week, stringing together a 3.23 earned run average, with the third-most strikeouts.
Toronto started the week by winning both games of their doubleheader against the Baltimore Orioles before dropping Tuesday’s battle 9-6. Securing a win in the series finale on Wednesday is crucial to creating space between themselves and the O’s, who are 3.5 games back of the Jays for the final Wild Card berth.
San Diego Padres
Record in One-Run Games: 27-13 (3-0 this week)
Three more wins in close games elevate the San Diego Padres’ win total to 27, tying them with the Blue Jays for the second most. The acquisition of Juan Soto appears to have boosted the Padres’ offense, offsetting some concerning pitching metrics.
Over the past month, the Friars have improved their on-base plus slugging percentage, resulting in increased runs per game. San Diego is scoring 4.7 runs per game with a .733 on-base plus slugging percentage over that stretch, up from its previous totals of 4.3 and .697. That increased production is needed to counterbalance the effects of diminished pitching. Padres pitchers have combined for a 4.36 earned run average over the last 30 days, with 1.32 walks and hits per inning pitched.
Tuesday night’s walk-off victory is an excellent example of the unsustainability of their current form. Although the outcome was in their favor, they were out-played throughout the contest, needing a dramatic ninth-inning comeback to secure the win. That may fly against inferior competition, but they may not be so lucky against the top teams in the league. Especially come playoff time.
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