Tuesday, October 28, 2008

It Shall Rain for 40 Hours and 40 Minutes

And then the voice said, "Take 2 each: outfielders, pitchers, catchers, and infielders, unto the ark."

Okay, really the umpires just said to put the tarp on the field last night, suspending game 5 of the World Series. The series isn't still on because the Rays forced a game 6, but instead because a deluge of precipitation fell on Citizen's Bank Park causing so much water pooling that Greg Louganis could have landed in one puddle off the high dive.

Play stopped in the middle of the sixth inning after the Rays had tied the game 2-2 on Carlos Pena's RBI single. It was clear that MLB was praying for the Rays to either tie the game or go ahead so that a possibly decisive game wouldn't be decided in part due to the weather. But it was clear, despite the protestations of MLB COO Bob Dupuy to Fox's Chris Myers, that the game would have continued had the Rays not tied the score.

The game likely won't be completed until Wednesday night, because tonight's forecast in Philly is calling for even worse weather than last night. The game could have been called prior to the fifth inning, but MLB was going to do everything they could to get the game in and they didn't want to get negative feedback from Phillies fans for calling the game with the Phils leading. Obviously no consideration was given to the health and well being of highly paid athletes who aren't used to playing baseball in a mud pit filled with water hazards. On top of everything else we had to listen to Joe Buck and Tim McCarver use the word "hydroplane" countless times.

The stoppage has to favor the Rays since it means there's no way that Cole Hamels will continue in the contest. Though he wasn't as dominant as he had been in his prior post-season starts, he had still limited the Rays to just 5 hits over 6 innings and those 2 runs. On the other hand, Rays starter Scott Kazmir was awful, the weather notwithstanding. He lasted only four innings, walking 6 hitters and only gave up 2 runs due to the Phillies' continuing inefficiency with runners in scoring position.

There was good news in the game for the Rays as Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria finally broke out of their O-fers. Pena had a pair of hits, scored the Rays' first run and drove in the second. Longoria's fourth inning single broke his shneid and brought home Pena.

The Phillies took advantage of Kazmir's control problems to take a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning. Kazmir put two men on with one out by walking Jayson Werth and plunking Chase Utley. But after blowing a 94-mph strike three fastball past Ryan Howard, Kazmir walked Pat Burrell to load the bases, and then gave up a 2-run single to Shane Victorino. Pedro Feliz' single loaded the bases again, but Kazmir escaped further trouble by retiring Carlos Ruiz on an inning ending fly out.

Pena's one-out-double in the fourth brought some life to the Rays bench and Longoria capitalized with with his first hit and RBI of the series with a single to left. Hamels came right back though, getting Dioner Navarro to bounce into a double play.

Kazmir was in trouble again in the home half of the fourth, issuing back-to-back 2-out walks to Jimmy Rollins and Werth to load the bases. But Utley grounded out to second baseman Aki Iwamura to strand all three runners.

Rollin's error on a wind-blown pop-up in the fifth gave the Rays a lead off man on base, but Hamels, with a big assist from Utley, got Jason Bartlett to hit into a double play. Utley tagged runner Rocco Baldelli as he went by and then spun around to throw out Bartlett at first.

Joe Maddon finally went to his pen in the fifth when Kazmir walked Howard and Pat Burrell to start the inning. Grant Balfour did the job, retiring all three men he faced to strand the runners. Then it was the Rays' turn to come back and in the process halt play. B.J. Upton reached on a 2-out infield single, and despite the sloppy turf, stole second base. It paid off when Pena singled to left and Upton just beat the throw home from Burrell to tie the score. Pena moved to second base on a passed ball, but Longoria flied to deep center to end the inning and the night's play.

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