Moncada hits winning single in 8th again, White Sox beat Astros

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
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CHICAGO – Yoan Moncada came through with the go-ahead single in the eighth inning for the second straight game, and the Chicago White Sox rallied to beat the Houston Astros 4-3 on Tuesday night.

While the showdown between AL Cy Young Award contenders Dylan Cease and Justin Verlander didn’t live up to its billing, the White Sox came away with their fifth straight win. They moved within a game of AL Central leader Cleveland.

Moncada hit a tiebreaking two-run single in Monday’s 4-2 win. This time, Chicago had a runner on third when he singled to center against Hector Neris (4-4) to make it 4-3.

Cease lasted five innings, allowing three runs and six hits. The 26-year-old right-hander had gone a major league-record 14 consecutive starts without allowing more than one earned run.

Verlander, tops in the majors in wins and ERA coming in, went seven innings. The two-time Cy Young Award winner gave up three runs and eight hits.

Pinch-hitter Gavin Sheets smacked a two-run double off Verlander with one out in the seventh that made it 3-3.

Jose Abreu had three hits for Chicago. Jimmy Lambert (1-2) worked around a single in the eighth by Mauricio Dubon, and Liam Hendriks secured his 27th save in 30 chances with a seven-pitch ninth.

Houston’s Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker hit back-to-back doubles in the third to give Houston a 2-1 lead after Jose Altuve got picked off second.

Altuve led off the fifth with a drive to left against Cease to make it 3-1.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: LF Aledmys Diaz exited the game because of discomfort in his left groin. Diaz caught Yasmani Grandal‘s line drive to end the third inning. He was replaced by Chas McCormick in the bottom of the fourth. … SS Jeremy Pena was back in the lineup after being scratched from Monday’s game because of neck tightness.

White Sox: OF Luis Robert (sprained left wrist) won’t need to go on the injured list and could return as soon as Wednesday, manager Tony La Russa said. Robert was out of the lineup for the fourth consecutive game.

UP NEXT

The four-game series continues with Astros LHP Framber Valdez (11-4, 2.73 ERA) opposing White Sox RHP Michael Kopech (4-8, 3.18). Valdez tossed seven scoreless innings as Houston beat Texas 7-3 on Thursday. Kopech threw six no-hit innings and struck out a career-high 11 in Chicago’s 2-0 win over Detroit on Friday.

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.