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One of the things I always like to reference during a baseball season is how teams fare in one-run and extra inning games.

It’s a sign of heart and togetherness as a club and it’s also a sign that next season could be different. Lou Piniella always said “every team starts the season out 60-60 and it’s what they do in the other 42 games that matter.” One-run and extra inning games is where I fill in the blanks of Piniella’s statement.

It’s no surprise to see the Rangers have the best record in baseball because they’re winning the close games, going 18-7 in one-run contests. The Giants have the next best record and are 20-10 in one-run games.

Those two teams are great and could be destined for a World Series meeting, but what about the Phillies who are 19-9 in one-run games and 5-0 in extra innings?

Philly was set to win only 66.5 games by Las Vegas sportsbooks before the season started, and the number was probably right on the money, but they played well above their abilities the first six weeks of the season going 25-19. They’ve gone 12-27 since and sit at 37-46 just past the halfway mark.

The unmeasurable mark before the season started was what manager Pete Mackanin would do with a bunch of castoffs and no-name pitchers. He got them to believe, play hard and when the wins started to happen, they just started piling on and were having fun.

That type of fun can only last so long and it’s where talent always has to be part of any conversation. The Phillies came back down to earth hard and the one-run games this year show that next year’s number at 66.5 or 67 is likely to happen again. They’ll continue to be a good bet-against team during the second-half this year.

On the other side of things we’ve got the Twins, who have played well below expectations at 27-54, including 8-15 in one-run games. They were set at 77.5 wins before the season started after a promising 2015. Look for them to be a nice buy team with decent value in the second-half and also look to play them over the win total in 2017. They’re definitely not as bad as they look now.

Other teams I think are worth following close and playing daily for the second-half are the Pirates, Royals, Mets and Blue Jays. They’ll win more games than they lose the rest of the way and I can’t say that about some of the teams ahead of them in the standings.

Last thing: stay away from the run-line unless you’re taking +1.5 runs. I know the plus-money calculates your parlays into awesome looking pay prices, but they’re terrible bets and the sportsbooks love when you play them. The books even smile when they charge you 20 cents for playing the bad exotic wager.

It’s like the casino that charges you $5 to use the ATM so you can pull cash out and lose at the tables some more. It’s hard enough to win baseball games, so don’t make it harder on yourself by being greedy and suggest your team is going to win by two runs.

Ask any wise-guy in town the last time they made a limit wager laying 1.5 runs, and they’ll tell you never. But they do take +1.5 runs if the price is right just because there are so many one-run games.

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