Video: Relief pitcher Travis Wood hits first postseason HR in NLDS

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It didn’t take long for Travis Wood to get comfortable at the plate. The left-hander slotted in for Game 2 starter Kyle Hendricks, who was forced to leave in the fourth inning after taking a line drive off of his right forearm.

Wood closed the fourth inning with a six-pitch strikeout to Conor Gillaspie, then did some damage of his own against Giants’ right-handed reliever George Kontos:

In case you were wondering, that was a first-pitch cutter that left the yard at approximately 101 m.p.h., according to Statcast. It was also Wood’s first postseason home run, and the tenth he’s hit in the majors so far.

Per Twitter reports from MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat, among others, Wood was listed with Kerry Wood and Rick Sutcliffe as the only Cubs’ hurlers to homer in the playoffs, and the first to do so since 2003. Even more impressive: Travis Wood is just the second relief pitcher to hit one out in the postseason, preceded by 1924 New York Giants’ right-hander Rosy Ryan (per ESPN’s Jayson Stark).

Wood wasn’t the only Cubs pitcher to knock in a few runs, as Hendricks beat him to it with a 2-RBI base hit in the second inning.

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.