Must-Win Update, Sept. 23
I’m fascinated by “must-win” pennant race games in MLB … because it’s so strange to me how often the must-win team loses to a team that, you would think, could not care less.
We’ve got a whole bunch of “must-win” games going because of the live race in the American League East, the wild and crazy American League West, and the free-for-all all for the final wild-card spot in the National League.
Yes, I keep putting “must-win” inside quotation marks because few of these are technically must-wins — a must-win is when you’re facing elimination. But I think we can all fairly stretch the definition a bit.
If an NFL team starts the year 0-2, it’s probably fair to say the next game is a must-win because teams that start 0-3 have only made the playoffs four times, and just once this century. When the Astros are playing the Royals and are in the middle of a zany pennant race, I think it qualifies for them as a must-win — you can’t lose to the Royals when you’re trying to win your sixth consecutive division title (skipping over the COVID year).
I guess my general definition of “must-win” is when the game means MUCH more to one of the two teams playing.
So I thought it might be fun to do a quick (reminder to Joe: keep it quick) daily update on the must-win games.
Cubs must win vs. Rockies
Result: WIN (Cubs win 6-0)
This is EXACTLY what a team is supposed to do in a must-win game. Jameson Taillon pitched six scoreless innings, Seiya Suzuki went three for four with his 20th homer, the Cubs took the lead in the first inning and were never really threatened after that.
Suzuki, by the way, is hitting .348/.398/.692 since Aug. 1 with 12 home runs in 43 games. I actually own a Seiya Suzuki T-shirt (with his name in Japanese on the back) that I am wearing proudly.
The Cubs with this win take a one-game lead in the wild-card race.
Reds must-win vs. Pirates
Result: LOSS (Pirates win 7-5)
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