The year's Series a perfect storm for high ratings, high drama

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We’ll see the Game 2 ratings later today, but the ratings for Game 1 are in, and they’re very, very high:

Game 1 was the second-highest-rated MLB postseason game since 1999. It was seen by 19.5 million viewers, which marked a 33 percent increase over last year’s Game 1. That increase also marked the second-biggest year-to-year increase in World Series Game 1 viewership since data was first collected in 1968, trailing just 1976-77 (56 percent increase).

The Yankees and Phillies are both from gigantic media markets, so it’s not surprising that the ratings are high.  Throw in the marquee Sabathia vs. Lee matchup, and it’s even less surprising.

But last night’s Game may very well have set the stage for even better ratings — and if not ratings, certainly high-level excitement — down the road.  The Yankees win keeps it close.  Pedro Martinez’s lion-in-winter performance, even in a losing effort, was inspiring.  The fact that we’re now four for four in strong starting pitching performances is another key factor: chicks may dig the longball, but pitching duels keep people riveted to the TV come October.

One game in was too soon to crown the Phillies champs, and two games in may be too soon to call this Classic a classic.  But after two sharp games, it certainly feels like we’re heading in that direction.

Astros stave off AL West elimination, beat the Diamondbacks

Colby Rasmus, Gary Pettis
AP Photo

Facing an elimination number of one, the Astros staved off elimination in the AL West by beating the Diamondbacks on Friday night by a 6-1 margin. The Rangers suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Angels on Saturday afternoon, which temporarily put the Astros’ fate in their own hands.

Colby Rasmus hit a pair of solo homers and Jose Altuve added a solo shot of his own. Starter Collin McHugh tossed seven innings of one-run ball, limiting the Diamondbacks to six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Reliever Will Harris allowed a solo home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth, but Luke Gregerson closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.

The Astros trail the Rangers by one game in the AL West and lead the Angels by one game for the second AL Wild Card slot. The Rangers can clinch the AL West on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Astros loss. The Astros can clinch the second AL Wild Card on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Angels loss.

The Yankees lost both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles and lead the Astros by only one game for the first AL Wild Card slot.

If the Astros win and the Rangers lose on Sunday, they will play an AL West tiebreaker in Texas. The winner will win the second AL Wild Card if the Yankees win on Sunday, or the first AL Wild Card if the Yankees lose on Sunday.

If the Astros lose and the Angels win on Sunday, the two teams will be tied for the second AL Wild Card. They would play a tiebreaker in Houston, and the winner would play the Yankees in New York in the Wild Card game.

Video: Kelby Tomlinson slides in for an inside-the-park home run

Kelby Tomlinson
AP Photo
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Giants second baseman Kelby Tomlinson looked more like Ladainian Tomlinson the way he was running during Saturday afternoon’s game against the Rockies. In the first inning with one out against starter Chris Rusin, Tomlinson hit a fly ball into the right-center field gap at AT&T Park, a great place to go if you’re in the mood for an inside-the-park home run.

Neither Carlos Gonzalez nor Chris Dickerson could corral the ball before it rolled all the way to the 421-foot marker at the fence. Tomlinson motored around the bases, but Gonzalez made a strong throw into cut-off man D.J. LeMahieu, and LeMahieu made a great throw in to catcher Tom Murphy, but Tomlinson slid in safely just ahead of the tag.

It was an exciting play and the hit proved important as the Giants eked out a 3-2 win against the Rockies.