Dodgers clinch postseason berth with 10-6 win over Giants

Manny Machado
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The Dodgers are officially headed to the postseason after wrapping up a 10-6 victory over the Giants on Saturday. With the win, they eliminated the Cardinals’ chances of staging a late-season comeback and forcing a one-game tiebreaker, regardless of how Sunday’s games unfold.

With a postseason spot hanging in the balance, Joc Pederson wasted little time getting the Dodgers on the board and skied a home run to right field off of the Giants’ Dereck Rodriguez in the first inning. Yasiel Puig chased it with another solo shot in the second, but the Dodgers’ lead was cut back down to one run after Gorkys Hernandez uncorked an RBI single in the bottom of the inning.

The NL West rivals traded blows inning after inning; Joe Panik scored a pair of runs off of another base hit in the third, followed by Enrique Hernandez‘s RBI double and a rare two-run single from Clayton Kershaw in the fourth. By the fifth inning, the two teams were knotted 5-5 after Hunter Pence collected his 11th double of the season and Panik plated the team’s fifth run on a sac fly.

If the Giants had plans to thwart the Dodgers’ postseason hopes, however, they fizzled out in the second half of the game. Kershaw made his exit in the fifth while the bullpen fired scoreless inning after scoreless inning and the Dodgers’ offense continued to rake in runs: a Manny Machado go-ahead triple in the eighth, then a Max Muncy double and a pair of Chris Taylor and Cody Bellinger singles in the ninth. While lefty reliever Zac Rossup began to falter in the bottom of the ninth after allowing a leadoff walk to Brandon Crawford, he quickly recovered with a strikeout and was bailed out for the remainder of the inning by Kenley Jansen, who permitted Gregor Blanco a final RBI double before wrapping up the win with Alex Hanson’s eight-pitch, game-ending swinging strikeout.

This will mark the Dodgers’ sixth straight appearance in the postseason since 2013, though it remains to be seen whether they’ll tack on a sixth division title as well. They’ll need to sweep the Giants on Sunday and see the Rockies take back-to-back losses on Saturday and Sunday in order to force a tiebreaker for the NL West title. Should the Rockies take first place, the Dodgers will face off against either Cubs or Brewers in the Wild Card Game next week.

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.