Rain puts possible Series-ending Game 5 on hold with Phillies, Rays tied in sixth

Tuesday, October 28, 2008
GENE J. PUSKAR ~ Associated Press
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, center, talks with other officials after rain stopped Game 5 of the World Series between the Tampa Bay Rays and Philadelphia Phillies. Selig announced the game was suspended in the middle of the sixth inning and will be resumed when weather permits.

PHILADELPHIA — Game 5 of the World Series was suspended because of rain in the sixth inning Monday night with the Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays tied at 2-2 and the field already a sloppy, soggy mess.

"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."

Rain was expected to continue into today, delaying the Phillies' chance to wrap up their first championship since 1980. Philadelphia leads three games to one.

There has never been a rain-shortened game in Series history. Whenever this one resumes, it will pick up where it left off, with the Phils about to bat in the bottom of the sixth.

"The weather tomorrow is supposed to be worse," said Bob DuPuy, MLB's chief operating officer.

Carlos Pena hit a tying, two-out single in the sixth for the Rays, and the umpires called it moments later. By then, every ball and every pitch had become an adventure because of the miserable conditions.

"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."

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."

MLB changed its rules on suspended games in November 2006. Had this happened before then, this game would've been declared a tie and replayed in its entirety.

Today was supposed to be a travel day, if necessary. Instead, the teams will stay in Philadelphia and then head back to Tropicana Field if the Rays win. The delay, however, forced the Rays to find a new hotel in the area.

About 10 minutes after the game was officially suspended, an announcement was made at Citizens Bank Park 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. Quickly, however, the showers turned to a steady downpour and the field became a quagmire.

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.

No luck.

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.

B.J. Upton beat out an infield hit with two outs in the sixth on a ball that Rollins bobbled. Upton stole second and hustled home on Pena's hit, with left fielder Pat Burrell's throw home plopping into a puddle in the grass.

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 Evan 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.

"The World Series always should be decided by nine innings with somebody making the final out, not the weather or natural disasters or whatever," Rays reliever Trever Miller said. "That's what fans pay to see. That's what we work hard for all year."

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