Twins unhappy Orioles’ Chance Sisco bunted for a hit

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Twins starter Jose Berrios was working on a one-hit shutout in the ninth inning against the Orioles on Sunday afternoon. After getting Pedro Alvarez to pop out, Chance Sisco came to the plate and dropped down a bunt to the left side for a single. Berrios would then walk Chris Davis and Manny Machado to load the bases, but finished his shutout by getting Jonathan Schoop to pop out and Adam Jones to strike out.

The Twins won 7-0. Berrios got his shutout. They should be happy, right? The Twins were actually pretty upset with Sisco’s choice to lay down a bunt. Second baseman Brian Dozier said, via Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, “Obviously, we’re not a fan of it. He’s a young kid. I could’ve said something at second base but they have tremendous veteran leadership over there. I’m sure they’ll address that. It’s all about learning. You learn up here.”

Berrios said, “I don’t care if he’s bunting. I just know it’s not good for baseball in that situation. That’s it.”

Outfielder Eddie Rosario said, “Nobody liked that. No, no, no. That’s not a good play.”

In baseball’s rather large book of unwritten rules, there has traditionally been a section that says hitters shouldn’t attempt to bunt for a hit to break up a pitcher’s no-hitter. I’ve never heard an unwritten rule prescribing that same behavior when a pitcher is working on a one-hitter.

As Matthew Pouliot points out, the Twins were shifting Sisco pretty hard to the right side when he came to the plate in the ninth inning.

The game wasn’t over yet. Sure, overcoming a seven-run deficit with one out in the ninth is a tall order, but players aren’t taught to just roll over once the deficit reaches a certain threshold. They play until the last out is officially recorded. Furthermore, if the Twins expected Sisco to play standard, why weren’t they playing standard defense? If it’s okay to defensively shift up by seven, then it’s okay to bunt down by seven — even if there’s a one-hitter in progress.

This is just tremendously petty on the Twins’ part. The two clubs don’t meet up again until July 5 in Minnesota, so we’ll see if the Twins carry a grudge for three months.

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.