Rookie Brieske outduels Cease, Tigers beat White Sox 2-1

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CHICAGO – Beau Brieske could feel everything clicking for him as he sailed through a dominant start. The Tigers needed every bit of what he gave them.

Brieske tossed two-hit ball into the seventh inning while outpitching Dylan Cease, Javier Baez homered and Detroit hung on beat the Chicago White Sox 2-1.

“Those are the most fun games to pitch in,” Brieske said. “You know you have to be at your best in order to give your team a chance to win.”

The Tigers won their fifth straight. They followed up their first four-game sweep of Cleveland in nine years by taking the opener of a four-game set against the reigning AL Central champions.

Pinch-hitter Spencer Torkelson had an RBI single in the ninth to give Detroit a two-run lead. Chicago then made it interesting in the bottom half against closer Gregory Soto.

Tim Anderson singled with one out, AJ Pollock walked and Luis Robert cut it to 2-1 with a double down the line that a diving first baseman Torkelson said popped over his glove. But with runners on second and third, Soto struck out Jose Abreu and Eloy Jimenez to earn his 17th save in 19 chances.

The only hits Brieske (2-6) allowed were singles by Josh Harrison leading off the sixth and by Abreu, who chased him with one out in the seventh. The 24-year-old right-hander struck out four and walked one to win for the second time in 14 major league starts. He also beat Toronto on June 11.

“He did a really good job,” catcher Tucker Barnhart said. “He pitched Luis Robert in, he pitched Jose Abreu in, was able to kind of get them sped up a bit and use the changeup and the slider. I can’t say enough good things about him.”

White Sox manager Tony La Russa was impressed, too.

“At least three pitches, sometimes four. Stayed out of the middle of the zone, got ahead of hitters,” he said. “All the stuff good pitchers do. Hopefully the next time we see him we have a better chance.”

Baez, greeted with more boos than cheers in his first game in Chicago since the crosstown Cubs traded him to the New York Mets last July, gave Detroit a 1-0 lead when he connected against Cease leading off the fourth. The drive to left was the two-time All-Star’s eighth home run.

Cease (7-4) – 10-0 in his first 11 starts against Detroit – was a tough-luck loser. The right-hander went six innings, allowing one run on three hits. He struck out eight and walked three.

Harrison, who also walked in the third, got stranded after breaking up the no-hit bid in the sixth. He moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Reese McGuire and advanced to third with two out on a wild pitch before AJ Pollock lined to Baez at shortstop.

Abreu extended his hitting streak to 12 games with his single in the seventh. But he also got tagged out between first and second by Barnhart to end the inning after Alex Lange struck out Jimenez.

Detroit’s Andrew Chafin retired Yoan Moncada on a flyball to the warning track leading off the eighth, then got the next two batters.

QUOTABLE

“Not a new thing. They just love me on the other side.” – Baez on being booed on the South Side.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Tigers: RHP Wily Peralta (strained left hamstring) likely won’t return this month after being placed on the 15-day injured list, manager A.J. Hinch said. “It’ll be difficult for him to be back here in July, but that’s just a guess at this point given the initial diagnosis,” Hinch said. … RHP Kyle Funkhouser (strained right shoulder) is set to throw a bullpen session. … RHP Rony Garcia (sore right shoulder) played catch. … Hinch said OF Austin Meadows (strained right and left Achilles tendons), on a rehab assignment, woke up sore. But he was added to Triple-A Toledo’s lineup.

White Sox: 3B Yoan Moncada was in the lineup after leaving Wednesday’s win over Minnesota in the sixth inning because of a bruised right foot. … OF/1B Andrew Vaughn (illness) was not in the lineup. … The White Sox won’t have a timeline on LHP Aaron Bummer (strained left lat) until he starts throwing off a mound, La Russa said. Bummer has not pitched since June 7.

UP NEXT

The series continues with RHP Lucas Giolito (5-4, 4.90 ERA) opposing Tigers LHP Tarik Skubal (5-7, 4.06). Giolito pitched three-hit ball over six innings in a win at San Francisco after posting a 9.00 ERA in his previous four starts.

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.