MLB opener was most-viewed regular-season game in 9 years

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BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) — The pandemic-delayed Major League Baseball opener was the sport's most-watched regular-season game on any network in nine years.

The New York Yankees' rain-shortened 4-1 win at the Washington Nationals on Thursday night averaged 4 million viewers on ESPN, according to Nielsen fast national ratings. The game peaked at 8:30 p.m. EDT with 4.48 million viewers.

No regular-season game had been viewed by that many since 4.7 million watched Boston beat the Yankees 3-2 in 10 innings on Aug. 7, 2011, also on ESPN.

ESPN's previous high for an opener was 3.7 million for a 2017 matchup between the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs. Chicago tied the score with three runs in the ninth, and Randal Grichuck hit a walkoff single off Mike Montgomery in the bottom half. Seattle's 12-4 victory over Boston on opening night last year was seen by 1.2 million on ESPN.

The Los Angeles Dodgers' 8-1 win over San Francisco in the second game of Thursday's doubleheader averaged 2,764,000 viewers on ESPN. The network said it was its most-watched late-night Eastern time baseball telecast, topping the previous high of 1,817,000 for the Chicago Cubs' 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 10, 2017, a game that ended on Anthony Rizzo's single off Kenley Jansen.

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