Will the Rangers’ runners keep testing Yadier Molina’s arm?

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Running has been a big part of the Rangers’ offense all year, as they ranked fourth among AL teams in steals during the regular season and swiped seven bases in 10 games through the first two playoff rounds.

Texas tried to get that running game going right away in Game 1 of the World Series last night and St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina gunned down leadoff hitter Ian Kinsler on a failed hit-and-run in the first inning. And after that the Rangers never attempted another steal in a 3-2 loss.

Molina has established himself as one of the best-throwing catchers of all time, throwing out 44 percent of steal attempts during his career while leading the league three times in seven full seasons. Asked afterward if he expects the Rangers to continue testing him, Molina replied: “Go ahead, man. I’m going to be ready for it.”

Obviously the Rangers’ lineup is more than capable of scoring runs in bunches without base-stealing being a big factor, but with running against Molina likely taking away as many scoring opportunities as it creates it’ll be interesting to see if manager Ron Washington is willing to put the red light on at times.

MLB crowds jump from ’21, still below pre-pandemic levels

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PHOENIX — Even with the homer heroics of sluggers like Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols, Major League Baseball wasn’t able to coax fans to ballparks at pre-pandemic levels this season, though attendance did jump substantially from the COVID-19 affected campaign in 2021.

The 30 MLB teams drew nearly 64.6 million fans for the regular season that ended Wednesday, which is up from the 45.3 million who attended games in 2021, according to baseball-reference.com. This year’s numbers are still down from the 68.5 million who attended games in 2019, which was the last season that wasn’t affected by the pandemic.

The 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers led baseball with 3.86 million fans flocking to Dodger Stadium for an average of 47,672 per contest. The Oakland Athletics – who lost 102 games, play in an aging stadium and are the constant subject of relocation rumors – finished last, drawing just 787,902 fans for an average of less than 10,000 per game.

The St. Louis Cardinals finished second, drawing 3.32 million fans. They were followed by the Yankees (3.14 million), defending World Series champion Braves (3.13 million) and Padres (2.99 million).

The Toronto Blue Jays saw the biggest jump in attendance, rising from 805,901 fans to about 2.65 million. They were followed by the Cardinals, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, and Mets, which all drew more than a million fans more than in 2021.

The Rangers and Reds were the only teams to draw fewer fans than in 2021.

Only the Rangers started the 2021 season at full capacity and all 30 teams weren’t at 100% until July. No fans were allowed to attend regular season games in 2020.

MLB attendance had been declining slowly for years – even before the pandemic – after hitting its high mark of 79.4 million in 2007. This year’s 64.6 million fans is the fewest in a non-COVID-19 season since the sport expanded to 30 teams in 1998.

The lost attendance has been balanced in some ways by higher viewership on the sport’s MLB.TV streaming service. Viewers watched 11.5 billion minutes of content in 2022, which was a record high and up nearly 10% from 2021.