What’s on Tap: Previewing Sunday’s action

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Craig is on vacation for two weeks, so it’s just you lovely people and yours truly. Please, stop throwing tomatoes. I promise I’ll try my hardest.

It’s a little early in the season still to play division watchdog, but the Nationals are on a seven-game losing streak and enter Sunday with a tenuous two-game lead over the Mets in the NL East. The Mets have been dealing, seemingly, with injury after injury, but they’ve picked up four games in the standings within the last week. The Nats dropped the final two games of a four-game set against the Padres, then got swept by the Dodgers, and will try this afternoon to stave off a sweep by the Brewers to cap off what has been an ugly road trip. The Mets get to play the lowly Braves, off of which the Mets have already taken two of three in their current series.

Bartolo Colon toes the rubber for the Mets against Braves right-hander Bud Norris, starting at 1:35 PM EDT at Turner Field.

Tanner Roark goes for the Nats against the Brew Crew’s Jimmy Nelson, starting at 2:10 PM EDT at Miller Park.

The rest of Sunday’s action…

Minnesota Twins (Tyler Duffey) @ New York Yankees (Nathan Eovaldi), 1:05 PM EDT

Chicago Cubs (Jason Hammel) @ Miami Marlins (Jose Fernandez), 1:10 PM EDT

Cleveland Indians (Josh Tomlin) @ Detroit Tigers (Justin Verlander), 1:10 PM EDT

San Diego Padres (Luis Perdomo) @ Cincinnati Reds (Anthony DeSclafani), 1:10 PM EDT

Tampa Bay Rays (Drew Smyly) @ Baltimore Orioles (Tyler Wilson), 1:35 PM EDT

Toronto Blue Jays (Marcus Stroman) @ Chicago White Sox (Chris Sale), 2:10 PM EDT

Houston Astros (Doug Fister) @ Kansas City Royals (Ian Kennedy), 2:15 PM EDT

Boston Red Sox (Clay Buchholz) @ Texas Rangers (Martin Perez), 3:05 PM EDT

Oakland Athletics (Sonny Gray) @ Los Angeles Angels (Hector Santiago), 3:35 PM EDT

Philadelphia Phillies (Aaron Nola) @ San Francisco Giants (Johnny Cueto), 4:05 PM EDT

Arizona Diamondbacks (Patrick Corbin) @ Colorado Rockies (Chad Bettis), 4:10 PM EDT

St. Louis Cardinals (Jaime Garcia) @ Seattle Mariners (James Paxton), 4:10 PM EDT

Los Angeles Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Chad Kuhl), 8:08 PM EDT

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.