Just how good have the Baltimore Orioles been in one-run games? Well, you’d have to go back 122 years to find a better team.
With Tuesday’s 1-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays, Baltimore improved to 29-9 in one-run games. That .763 win percentage is the third best in MLB history. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only the 1883 Cleveland Blues (16-3) and 1890 Brooklyn Bridegrooms (14-4) have posted higher winning percentages in one-run games.
Highest Win Pct in One-Run Games
MLB History (min. 10 games)
Facing a stellar pitching performance, Tuesday exemplified Baltimore’s ability to win the close ones. James Shields took the loss despite 15 strikeouts, zero walks and one earned run.
In the Live Ball Era (since 1920), only one other pitcher drew a loss despite 15 K, 0 BB and 1 ER. That was Dwight Gooden on September 17, 1984 against the Philadelphia Phillies.
But if you go by the Bill James Game Score, Shields’ loss is without precedent.
His game score of 94 is the highest by a losing pitcher in a 9-inning game in the Live Ball Era. That distinction previously went to Ken Johnson, who lost 1-0 despite throwing a no-hitter back in 1964.
Mr. Early October?
Chris Davis provided the Orioles’ lone run with a 445-foot, solo home run in the fourth inning. That’s now six-straight games with a home run for Davis, trying a franchise single-season record shared by Reggie Jackson (1976) and Ken Williams (1922).
All seven of Davis’ home runs over the past six games have come on offspeed pitches. He’s hit 19 home runs on offspeed pitches this season, trailing only Josh Hamilton’s 25.
Trailing 3-1 in the ninth inning, Ibanez tied the game up with a two-run home run. He then won the game with a walk-off single in the 12th inning.
According to Elias, he’s the first Yankees hitter since 1920 (when RBI became official) to hit a game-tying HR in the 9th and a walk-off RBI of any sort in extra-innings. You have to go back to Graig Nettles in 1973 to find the last to provide an extra-inning walk-off RBI after tying the game in the 9th.
Elias also notes that Ibanez is the first Yankees hitter over 40 with a walk-off RBI since Enos Slaughter on August 4, 1957 against the Indians.
Game 162 Drama
The AL East title boils down to Game 162, with the possibility of a one-game playoff looming.
The Yankees led by 10 games on July 18. According to Elias, their largest blown lead was six games in 1933.
Only twice in the Divisional Era (since 1969) has New York failed to win the AL East when leading outright at any point in September: 1974 and 2010.
Baltimore once trailed by 13 games in the division. If they end up taking the AL East, that would tie the third largest comeback ever by an eventual first-place finisher.