PHILADELPHIA | Mother Nature continues to make things difficult for Major League Baseball.
Heavy rains forced another delay Tuesday in the World Series after causing a suspension of the fifth game Monday night with the Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays tied 2-2 after 5½ innings.
“While obviously we want to finish Game Five as soon as possible,” commissioner Bud Selig said, “the forecast for (Tuesday) does not allow for us to continue the game this evening.
“We are closely monitoring (Wednesday’s) forecast and will continue to monitor the weather on an hourly basis. We will advise fans as soon as we are able to make any final decisions with respect to (Wednesday’s) schedule.”
Rain continued to fall steadily Tuesday before MLB made its official announcement around 1 p.m. Eastern time. The forecast called for showers to move through the area late in the day but heavy winds prompted estimates of wind-chill readings in the low 20s.
Selig said Monday the Series would not “resume until we have decent weather conditions.”
The Phillies hold a 3-1 edge in the best-of-seven Series and need just one more victory to claim the second title in their 126-year history. The Rays must win the suspended game and two more games in St. Petersburg, Fla., to capture the crown.
“We were pretty jacked up after the game,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “There’s 3½ innings to go, but our guys are very excited about this opportunity. I really expect us to handle it well.”
The forecast improves for Wednesday with clear skies projected by early afternoon. Temperatures are projected to be in the low 40s with diminished winds for a tentative 7:37 p.m. Central time start, although wind-chill readings could be near or below freezing.
“All year long we’ve been in a situation where we could control our destiny,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “This is no different. It’s up to us to stay focused and win that game.
“If we don’t get the job done, I have no complaints _ because it’s in our hands. It’s all up to us to do it.”
The postponement means a sixth game at Tropicana Field, if necessary, won’t be played before Thursday. A decisive seventh game, if needed, is now tentatively scheduled for Friday at the Trop.
There should be no weather concerns if the Series returns to St. Petersburg; Tropicana Field is a domed stadium.
The teams played much of Monday’s game in treacherous conditions after rain began falling in the second inning. The dirt surfaces became a quagmire by the fifth inning despite repeated applications of a drying compound.
“It was in bad shape,” Phillies second baseman Chase Utley said. “It was not playable.”
The Phillies carried a 2-1 lead into the sixth before Tampa Bay pulled even on a two-out single by Carlos Peña. That meant the game, by rule, had to be declared suspended once deteriorating conditions did not allow play to continue.
“When you’re out there on the field and the umpire says, `play ball,’ ” Maddon said, “you do that. It got worse, and I thought they made the appropriate decision at that timeIt just got to the point where it was unplayable.”
Selig said he had already determined the game would not be shortened regardless of the conditions or interruptions. No World Series game, once started, has ever failed to be played to its conclusion.
“We’ll stay here,” Selig said. “We’ll stay here if we have to celebrate Thanksgiving here.”
Maddon and Manuel each said they understood, from pre-game discussions, that all nine innings would be played -- however long that required. Both also said they chose not to inform their players.
“No, I didn’t tell our players,” Manuel said, “but at the same time, I think they were definitely thinking about going nine innings. When the rain started, they were still thinking about going nine innings.”