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.
James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.
And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:
“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”
“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.
“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.
I mentioned this in the recaps this morning, but I think it deserves it’s own special place. Get what went down in the second inning of last night’s Rays-O’s game:
Ryan Flaherty was on first with Seth Smith up to bat. Smith hit a single to center. Flaherty, who was running with the pitch, was making for third base. All-world defender Kevin Kiermaier tried to gun him down but threw wildly to third, causing Flaherty to break for home.
Pitcher Alex Cobb had the play backed up, however! He got the ball near the dugout. Flaherty scampered back to third and Cobb tried to throw him out. The ball hit Flaherty’s helmet, richocheting into left field, allowing both Flaherty and Smith — who had stopped at first and then stopped at second, like a kid at tee ball or something — to come around and score.
I still think the Rays walking home the winning run on four pitches in the 11th inning was worse, but this looked worse.
Oh well: the Rays get the day off today and tomorrow, of course, is another day.