Wednesday, September 22, 2004: It is that time of year when the phrase “Magic Number” appears on lips across this great land of ours. It is a phrase that is thrown around a lot, but most people do not really understand it. I’ll admit that every year I have to re-learn how to calculate it. There are actually a couple of ways, but here is one of the easier: take the number of games remaining and add one; subtract the number of games ahead in the loss column your team is from the opponent against which you are trying to figure your magic number.
So, the Angels have 11 games remaining. Add one, which makes 12. We are six games ahead in the loss column. Our magic number is thus 6. Basically, we would have to collapse not to have some combination of 6 wins and Angels’ losses in the next two weeks. The Yankees have a magic number of 9 right now.
The main reason that I can write about the Magic Number at all is that the Sox (barely) were able to stop their own bloodflow last night, pulling off a nailbiter of a 3-2 win. The Sox led 1-0 going into the 9th when Foulke came in for what should have been the save on a Schilling masterpiece. Schill went eight, struck out 14 (including the last three batters he faced in the 8th, and of 114 pitches he threw an astounding 90 for strikes. Foulke had converted 16 straight save opportunities, and so it seemed logical to bring him in. Instead of things going according to plan, however, as Tejada singled and Javy Lopez hit a bomb over the Green monster to make it 2-1, deflating all of red Sox nation and costing Schilling a much-deserved win. Fortunately, in the bottom of the 9th , Mark Belhorn managed to drive in Youkilis and Mueller (who had four hits, including a double that pushed Youks, who had walked, to third) with a single on a 2-1 count to win the game. It must have been a nailbiter in Fenway, but it was a needed win, even if the bats still are largely silent.
Hopefully they can manage to take these next two games, starting with Arroyo’s outing tonight, and get on another win streak heading into the series this weekend against the Yankees. Maybe the three days before last night’s games were the worst, last bad streak we’ll see in 2004.