It’s been a very press-releasy day at MLB. Just got another one touting interlague play:
Major League Baseball drew 8,468,620 fans during Interleague games this season for an average of 33,606 per game. The 2011 Interleague average is 18.2 percent higher than this season’s current intraleague average of 28,421 per game. Since its inception in 1997, Interleague Play has drawn 12.0 percent more fans than intraleague games; Interleague Play has averaged 33,285 fans per game, compared to the intraleague average of 29,716 fans per game during the same span.
There are clearly some appealing interleague matchups that drive that attendance difference. Yankees-Cubs and a host of cross-town and rivalry series are legitimate draws, and the overall marketability of much of the interleague schedule is undeniable.
At the same time, these differences are partly the product of apples-oranges comparisons, as those intraleague numbers are weighted more toward the earlier, cold, rainy part of the season and don’t have the benefit of holiday weekends like interpleague play got. One figures that, if the timing of the interleague and intraleague slates were tweaked a bit, the differences would not be as stark.
Mostly, one just wonders if it’s possible to keep the great interleague matchups while dispensing with the less-appealing ones — Seattle vs. San Diego, anyone? — in favor of more matchups that have a more direct impact on division races. I kind of doubt it, but I’d like to spend more time thinking critically about interleague play and scheduling issues and less time going all rah-rah with it.
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.