Drama queens they are not. In fact, when it comes to the 2007, there is simply no drama at all.
That’s Tony Massarotti’s accusatory lede to a story in yesterday’s Herald, about the lack of late-inning theatrics for this year’s Red Sox squad. Massarotti cites the Red Sox’ 1-32 record when trailing entering the ninth to illustrate that this team has no flair for fireworks. Doug Mirabelli, when asked about this late-inning failure, said "I don’t know. That’s all I can say…I wouldn’t be able to explain why we won those games in other years, either.”
There’s a reason for Mirabelli’s inability to explain this: comebacks are extremely rare when entering the ninth. And that is true for every team in the league, regardless of their position in the standings. We looked at the best (and the worst) in the AL for the numbers. Baseball Reference, as usual, provides the backup, after the jump.
- The Red Sox are 1-32 when trailing entering the ninth. They are 6-32 when trailing entering the eighth.
- Yankees: 2-39 (9th), 4-36 (8th)
- Indians: 4-30 (9th), 5-30 (8th)
- Tigers: 3-28 (9th), 3-26 (8th)
- Angels: 1-32 (9th), 3-31 (8th)
- Mariners: 0-37 (9th), 4-34 (8th)
- Devil Rays: 4-42 (9th), 2-44 (8th)
- Royals: 2-46 (9th), 4-42 (8th)
So the Royals have come back as many times in the ninth inning to win as the Yankees, more times than the Red Sox, Angels, and Mariners. Though the worst teams have trailed many more times entering the ninth (duh!), their gross number of comebacks tracks the best teams, and while their winning percentage in late-inning trailing scenarios is lower, they have still been able to pull off comebacks in quantities matching the best teams. Interestingly, if you add in the seventh inning, the patterns don’t change much. Looking at the "entering the 7th inning tied or behind" numbers, we see that the aforementioned teams have won the following number of games:
- Red Sox: 11
- Yankees: 6
- Indians: 15
- Tigers: 10
- Angels: 12
- Mariners: 11
- Devil Rays: 10
- Royals: 9
The glaring outlier is the Yankees, and this late-inning comeback deficit might explain their being 9 out instead of, say, four or five (maybe Maz should go write for the Daily News?). But in general, the rule is that if you trail entering the seventh, you win quite infrequently. If you trail entering the ninth, you win almost never. This basic pattern is something that a number of baseball fans — perhaps Sox fans especially because of some of the high profile comebacks of the last few years — do not recognize.