Major League Baseball has been suffering from a bit of an attendance decline this year, partially due to the weather, partially due to a wildcat strike by fans against the Dodgers and partially due to unknown causes, be they economic or what have you. This past weekend, however, was a humdinger at the box office.
In fact, it was the biggest attendance weekend for Major League Baseball — at least for a weekend with 45 scheduled games, meaning no double headers — since September 2008, with 1,646,000 folks buying tickets. How nice of them to round themselves off to the nearest thousand like that!
Here’s Bud Selig’s quote, which came attached to the press releases:
“Fans coming out in these remarkable numbers demonstrate the popularity of Interleague Play, especially given that many of our intra-city rivalries did not occur this weekend. I remain optimistic that our attendance numbers will continue to climb with summer beginning tomorrow and five of the six Divisions separated by 1.5 games or less.”
Well, there were some rivalry series and series of interest: Orioles-Nats, which drew well, A’s-Giants (ditto), Royals-Cardinals and of course the non-traditional, but quite historical Cubs-Yankees tilts at Wrigley. But his point does stand, given that stuff like Pirates-Indians drew very well, which is not necessarily expected (the Cleveland-Pittsburgh football thing does not translate to baseball). Whether that’s because of “the popularity of interleague play” or merely because, hey, it was a nice weekend for baseball, is an open question.
But hey, good to see you looking healthier, baseball.
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.
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.