Report: Roger Clemens could start for Astros on Sept. 12

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That the Astros will watch Roger Clemens’ second outing for the independent Sugar Land Skeeters on Sept. 7 was a given, and CBSSports.com’s Danny Knobler says there is “strong speculation in baseball” that Clemens will then pitch for the Astros five days later.

That’d be Sept. 12 against the Cubs, baseball’s second worst team since the All-Star break. The Astros, at 8-47 in their last 55 games, are pretty well locked into the 30th spot on any sort of power rankings one could dream up.

The 50-year-old Clemens pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings last Saturday in his first start for the Skeeters. He announced last night that he’d make his second outing Sept. 7 on 12 days’ rest.

For what it’s worth, given the schedule, it sure seems like Clemens is on his own timetable and not Houston’s. While the Astros are at home on Sept. 12, he’d only seem to be in position to make one additional start in Houston by debuting then. If he bumped that up to Sept. 10 or 11 instead, he’d have been in a position to make three or maybe even four home starts for the Astros before the season ended.

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.