Royals hang on to beat the Mets in 2016 season opener

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The Royals had a pretty firm grasp on the 2016 season opener against the Mets, a rematch of the 2015 World Series. Starter Edinson Volquez pitched six shutout innings while Lorenzo Cain reached base three times and Eric Hosmer logged three hits, helping the Royals ascend to a 4-0 lead.

It was looking like a comfortable win, but the Mets struck for three runs in the top of the eighth to nearly erase their four-run deficit. With the bases loaded and one out against reliever Joakim Soria, Lucas Duda slapped a two-run single to the opposite field, also opening up the opportunity for Yoenis Cespedes to advance to third base. Neil Walker brought him home on a ground out, but that was as far as the Mets got.

Closer Wade Davis came in, but found himself in immediate trouble. He issued a leadoff walk to Travis d'Arnaud and a one-out single to Curtis Granderson, putting runners at first and third. Davis bounced back, striking out David Wright looking, then getting Cespedes to strike out on an outside fastball.

Mets starter Matt Harvey, who had a health scare last week, pitched better than his line score indicates. He gave up four runs (three earned) on eight hits and two walks with two strikeouts. He was hurt in the first inning when Cespedes dropped a routine fly ball and d’Arnaud couldn’t handle a fastball, allowing runner advancement.

The 2015 World Series rematch will continue on Tuesday afternoon, the final game of the two-game set. Noah Syndergaard will toe the slab for the Mets while Chris Young starts for the Royals. There has been some hubbub surrounding Syndergaard over a report that indicated the Royals would seek revenge for an up-and-in pitch he threw to Alcides Escobar in Game 3 of the World Series. The Royals, however, shot down that report and Syndergaard doesn’t think he did anything worthy of revenge.

Thus concludes an exciting day of baseball on Opening Day. If you missed the other action, Francisco Liriano pitched the Pirates past the Cardinals with 10 strikeouts, and the Blue Jays’ Marcus Stroman killed the Rays with ground balls. The rest of the league opens up the season on Monday.

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.