Thirty days has September, April, June and November — except for when September has 35 days, like this year.
That’s right, for a limited time only, the baseball gods have extended September to give us 17 percent MORE (MORE, MORe, MOre, More, more …) pennant race baseball in the American League East. Or should I say, the AL Beast. Because starting on Aug. 29 and ending on Oct. 2, super-September is going to be a bear for the Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles (and the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays, for that matter), as the three contenders in MLB’s most contentious pennant race will take turns bludgeoning each other repeatedly during the final megamonth of the season.
Stat that matters: .914. That’s the current OPS of Edwin Encarnacion, who’s on pace to finish above .900 again. If he does, he’ll join Mike Trout as the only AL players to do so (assuming Trout doesn’t go in the tank) in each of the past five seasons.
Over the next five weeks, Toronto plays a dozen games against Boston and Baltimore (six each), and Boston plays Baltimore seven times in what should be a supremely entertaining stretch run that will ultimately determine the division champion — and possibly a wild card or two.
Which brings us to Carlos Gomez. He had worn out his welcome elsewhere, but the Rangers promised him a fresh start on Aug. 20. Based on Gomez’s natural talent, it was possible to squint and see the upside, and in Gomez’s first at-bat in Texas, he ripped a home run. He hasn’t recorded a hit since (0-for-11, 6 strikeouts).
It was a terrible decision, even noting that Gordon subsequently scored from third when Paulo Orlando hit a sacrifice fly to center. A run expectancy chart and its derivative, a win expectancy chart, can display mathematically why it was the wrong decision, but relying on those cheat sheets, like a first-time blackjack player, vastly underestimates how poor the decision was. Expectancy charts are based on baseline, league-average situations, but this was not a baseline situation. The Royals were playing the highest-scoring team in the majors, in the American League’s highest-scoring run environment over the last three seasons. You cannot construct a situation in the American League in which a single run has less marginal value for winning a game than what the Royals faced Sunday night.
With 24 outs to go in the game, and two pitchers in the game with 2016 ERAs of 4.27 and 5.11 on the mound, bunting with a runner on first and second and nobody out is foolish.