LEADING OFF: M’s test streak vs Astros, Soto rejoins Nats
A look at what’s happening around baseball today:
Breakout rookie Julio Rodríguez and the Mariners can match a franchise record with their 15th consecutive win as they open a home series against AL West-leading Houston.
Seattle went into the All-Star break a victory shy of matching the 2001 club for the franchise’s best run. They haven’t lost since July 1, and Rodríguez leads the team with 13 RBIs during the streak.
Just about the only downside to Seattle’s surge is that Houston is 12-5 over that same period, keeping the Mariners 11 games back in the division race.
All-Star Home Run Derby champion and trade deadline target Juan Soto rejoins his Nationals teammates to begin a series in Arizona.
Soto was peppered throughout All-Star week with questions about his future with Washington after he recently rejected a $440 million, 15-year deal. With their efforts to lock up the superstar rebuffed, the Nationals could trade Soto before the Aug. 2 trade deadline. This could be Soto’s final two weeks with his only franchise, where he won a World Series in 2019.
The 23-year-old Soto is having a down season by his lofty standards, hitting .250 with 20 home runs, 43 RBIs and a .901 OPS for the Nats, who own baseball’s worst record.
SHOWDOWN AT CITI FIELD
The NL East-leading Mets open the season’s second half with three games against San Diego, starting with a matchup between aces Max Scherzer and Yu Darvish.
Scherzer (6-1, 2.22 ERA) will be making his fourth start since missing time with an oblique injury, and he’s 1-0 with a 1.40 ERA and 31 strikeouts since returning. Darvish (8-4, 3.41) pitched two-hit ball over seven innings in a 7-0 victory against New York on June 7.
GOOD SEATS AVAILABLE
Major League Baseball is struggling to fill stadiums at pre-COVID levels as the sport heads into the last 2 1/2 months of its first season since 2019 without capacity restrictions.
MLB reached the All-Star break with an average attendance of 26,409. That represents a drop of 5.4% from the All-Star break of 2019 — which was 10 days earlier than this year. League officials remain encouraged and point to the recovery.
While MLB’s average attendance had fallen each year since 2015, most of the drops were by less than 2%. Average attendance was over 30,000 for 14 straight seasons from 2004-17 but hasn’t reached that mark since.
“We have come back to between 94-95% of where we were prior to the pandemic,” MLB chief revenue officer Noah Garden said. “So we feel really good about the progress we have made on the attendance side rebounding strongly from a situation that threatened the very core of how we operate as an industry.”
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports