On September 3, I wrote that “Fall Baseball is War” here. With that in mind, September 18 was the Battle of the Bulge. The stituation going into that night’s games found Detroit, Atlanta, La Dodgers, Boston and Oakland comfortably in first place in their divisions, and St. Louis two games ahead of Pittsburgh. but Pittsburgh, and Cincinatti 2.5 game back, along with St. Louis will make up the Division winner and NL Wild Card races, so there is little drama in the National League, unless, of course, Washington wins them all going forward.
The war is in the American League Wild Card race where Tampa Bay and Texas now lead, but Cleveland is .5 games back and Baltimore, New York and Kansas City are within 2.5. Anything can happen and the teams that are hot will prevail.
The fact that Fall Baseball is War is shown by the scores last night. The Angels beat Oakland 4-3 in ten innings, Baltimore beat Boston 5-3 in twelve innings, Tampa Bay beat Texas 4-3 in twelve innings, Cincinnati beat Houston 6-5 in thirteen innings, and Miami beat Philadelphia 4-3 in ten innings. The five extra inning games were joined with the Yankees 4-3 (four in the eighth for the Yankees) win over Toronto, San Diego beat Pittsburgh 3-2, scoring two in the ninth, St. Louis beat Colorado 4-3, and the New York Mets beat San Francisco 5-4 scoring four in the bottom of the ninth. So the five extra inning games were matched by four one run games.
These bitterly contested games came after 152 had been played and only the AL Wild to be decided. What is most indicative of the furious nature of Fall Baseball is that Houston, with only 51 wins and 101 losses, battled Cincinnati in a thirteen inning game, and Miami with 56 wins and 96 losses went ten to beat the Phillies. The intense comprtitiveness of a MLB season never lets up. Baseball players never quit. Every at-bat, every pitch thrown in reflected in their careet records and is used to deterine salaries for the coming year or multi-years. Even the last batter, on the last pitch thrown to a Houston player, will be trying with all his skill to make a hit, and the pitcher making that pitch will be trying to get an out. This is the very nature of a Major League Season, the long season, where the differences between teams at this point may appear to be great, but really comes down to the ability to win the Fifth Games, of which there are thirty-two each year. (SEE: Fifth Game Theory). These are the games, won or lost, that determine winners, even down to the last game.