(In addition to appearing at The Captain’s Blog, this post is also being syndicated at TheYankeeAnalysts.)
By the time the Rays and Red Sox completed their 16-inning Sunday night marathon, the Yankees had not only landed in Tampa, but were likely nestled comfortably in their beds. During the ESPN broadcast of the game, Bobby Valentine, Dan Shulman and Orel Hershiser repeatedly joked about how the Yankees’ primary rooting interest wasn’t for one team or the other, but that the game keep on going. After all, with a four-game showdown against the Rays looming, it would stand to reason that the Yankees would benefit from facing a tired and emotionally spent team.
Are teams that play so many extra innings susceptible to a let down in the next day’s game? Based on a sampling since 1990, the answer seems to be yes. Over that period, there have been 81 games that have gone at least 16 innings. However, of that total, only 21 occurred during the last game of a series (meaning in 60, there had to be one winner and loser the next day), and four of those preceded an off day, leaving just 16 (excluding last night’s) applicable contests.
The fate of the Red Sox and Rays will be determined tonight, but the record of the other 32 teams was 13-19 in the game following their extra inning jaunt. Although consideration of several other variables, such as home/road splits and next game’s opponent, would make that record more contextually meaningful, it’s worth noting that the combined W-L percentage of those 32 teams was .521 upon completion of the extra inning affair.
“Next Day” Record of Teams Involved in Games of 16-Plus Innings, Since 1990
If a team is going to play such a long game, it might as well win it, which is what the Red Sox wound up doing when Dustin Pedroia singled home the game’s only run in the 16th inning. Thanks to the scrappy second baseman’s clutch hit, the Red Sox may have arrived in Baltimore during the wee hours, but at least they did so with a win. Apparently, that comfort is enough to help some teams overcome the fatigue of playing several extra innings because the 16 marathon winners wound up going 9-7 the next day. That’s bad news for the Rays, who, as last night’s loser, are facing considerable historical odds. Of the 16 teams that lost a game of 16-plus innings, 12 were defeated again the following day.
One advantage the Rays had last night was they didn’t need to get on a plane after the game. However, since 1990, historical precedent doesn’t seem to regard this as much of a benefit. Ironically, the traveling team after a marathon game went 9-11 in their next game, while the sitting home team went 4-8. Even more bad news for the Rays is that only one of five losing teams that did not have to travel wound up winning their next game. Finally, the Rays face the added obstacle of having played and lost a 16-plus inning night game. Under such circumstances, teams were 7-11 the next day (losers were 3-6; winners were 4-5).
Just about any way you slice it, the Rays seem to be at a disadvantage heading into tonight’s game against the Yankees. Then again,Tampa is one of the league’s youngest teams, so if any group can overcome these odds, it would be Joe Maddon’s precocious bunch. As for the older Red Sox, well, any obstacles they may encounter will likely be mitigated by facing the Baltimore Orioles.