Dave Martinez: “I don’t know what else to do”

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One night after losing to the Cubs on a two-out, two-strike, down-three, pinch-hit, walk-off grand slam to the Cubs, the Washington Nationals were in a barn-burner against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Nats were down 1-0, then up 4-2, then down 6-4 following a big Cardinals rally in the eighth, capped by a big Matt Carpenter home run, before somehow getting up off the mat and tying things back up at 6 in the top of the ninth inning. The bullpen has been bad, but even shaky relievers are successful more often than we imagine them to be. Having lost two of the previous three due to bullpen hiccups, there was no special reason to think that they’d lose late once again.

Koda Glover took the mound and attempted to close things out. He got ahead of Paul DeJong 1-0 and then promptly threw three balls. Not wanting to put the winning run on first base to lead off the inning, Glover threw a fastball right over the plate and then watched DeJong deposit it over the left field fence and into the bullpen to give the Nats their second walkoff loss in around 24 hours:

After Sunday’s game Nats players and coaches all gave the usual “gotta forget this one and move on to the next game” quotes. After last night’s loss, however, rookie manager Dave Martinez said this: “I don’t know what else to do.”

That answer came in response to the cratering of Sammy Solis in that ugly eighth inning, but it might as well apply to any of the Nats relievers or, for that matter, the Nationals as a team. It’s a lost, floundering group, seven games back in the National League East and six back in the Wild Card race with a mob of teams in front of them. They have lost 21 one-run games and there is absolutely no one down in that pen that Dave Martinez can count on at the moment.

Closer Sean Doolittle has been on the disabled list for weeks and weeks. Kelvin Herrera is on the disabled list with shoulder problems. Ryan Madson, who gave up David Bote‘s grand slam on Sunday, said afterward that he is hurt and could very well hit the disabled list soon. GM Mike Rizzo shipped Brandon Kintzler and Shawn Kelley out of town for allegedly being malcontents. That leaves Glover, Solis, Matt Grace, Greg Holland, Wander Suero and, I guess, thoughts and prayers for Martinez to turn to.

In his place I wouldn’t know what else to do either.

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.