No end in sight thanks to rain
Posted: Tuesday, October 28, 2008 5:45 pm
By: By BEN WALKER, AP Baseball Writer
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — At the end of a strange and wet night that left the World Series in limbo, Scott Kazmir bumped into Cole Hamels in a corridor outside the Phillies clubhouse.
Kazmir gave the Philadelphia ace a playful nudge, and the starting pitchers from Game 5 walked together out of Citizens Bank Park.
No telling when we’ll see them — or any baseball — again.
Rain, rain made it all go away Monday night.
The Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays were suspended in the sixth inning with the score 2-all because of a steady downpour that turned the field into a quagmire.
“I can’t tell you tonight when we’ll resume,” commissioner Bud Selig said. “We’ll stay here if we have to celebrate Thanksgiving here.”
They could play tonight — the game was scheduled to resume at 7, according to Fox Sports — but one look at The Weather Channel made that possibility doubtful.
The Phillies lead three games to one, needing one more win for their first championship since 1980.
There has never been a rain-shortened game in Series history, and this was the first suspension.
By the time Carlos Pena hit a tying, two-out single in the sixth for the Rays, every pitch and every hit had become an adventure.
“It was terrible. The field wasn’t bad, but it was the worst conditions I’ve ever played in,” Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria said.
A puddle formed on home plate and umpire Jeff Kellogg resorted to using a towel rather than the usual whisk broom to wipe it clean.
Batters kept blinking back the rain drops and pitchers struggled with their footing. Strong gusts dropped the wind-chill factor into the 30s, and fielders covered their bare hands between pitches.
All-Star shortstop Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies chased a popup all over and dropped it for a tough error in the fifth. There were pools of water at every base and the Phillie Phanatic wore a rain slicker for his routine.
“The infield was tough. The ball would do funny things,” Phillies second baseman Chase Utley said. “It was in bad shape. It was not playable.”
Whenever this one resumes, it will pick up where it left off, with the Phillies about to bat in the bottom of the sixth.
Hamels is set to lead off for the Phils. For sure, the Phillies will send up a pinch-hitter against Grant Balfour, who’d previously relieved Kazmir.
Do the Rays counter with another pitcher, and immediately pull Balfour?
If Pena had not tied it, Selig said he would not have let the Phillies win with a game that was called after six innings.
“It’s not a way to end a World Series,” he said. “I would not have allowed a World Series to end this way.”
Fine by the Rays.
“The World Series always should be decided by nine innings with somebody making the final out, not the weather or natural disasters or whatever,” reliever Trever Miller said. “That’s what fans pay to see. That’s what we work hard for all year.”
Today was supposed to be a travel day, if necessary. Instead, the teams will stay in the area and then head back to Tropicana Field if the Rays win.
The delay, however, forced the Rays to find a hotel in Wilmington, Del., about 25 miles away.
About 10 minutes after the game was officially suspended, an announcement was made telling fans wrapped in plastic sheets they were done for the night.
By then, many had left their seats and streamed into the concourses. They crowded six or seven deep, trying to see any of the game before the umps signaled for the tarp.
Because it was only lightly raining when the game started, MLB hoped it could play a full nine innings. It quickly became apparent this rain wouldn’t quit.
By the middle innings, the grounds crew was running shuttles onto the field, carrying bags of a drying agent — baseball’s version of cat litter — to absorb the water.
“A lot of guys couldn’t believe we were still playing,” Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett said.
B.J. Upton beat out an infield hit with two outs in the sixth on a ball that Rollins bobbled. Upton stole second and made an impressive dash home on Pena’s hit, navigating the slippery basepaths and sliding in when left fielder Pat Burrell’s throw plopped into a puddle.
Fans showed up hoping they’d be witnesses to a World Series championship. Shane Victorino got them cheering with bases-loaded single in the first for a 2-0 lead off Scott Kazmir.
Rays manager Joe Maddon tinkered with his lineup, dropping the slumping Pena and Longoria one spot each — they were a combined 0-for-29 with 15 strikeouts after four games.
The Tampa Bay stars ended their hitless ruts in the fourth when Pena doubled off the right-field wall and Longoria followed with an RBI single up the middle that made it 2-1.
A few innings later, it was time to go.
“You couldn’t do anything you normally do out there,” Rays outfielder Carl Crawford said.