Postseason no stranger to inclement weather
Playoff clubs often faced with battle against elements
Each year's World Series champion has to weather storms to get to the top of baseball. And since the postseason takes place in October, that's often a literal challenge.
Take Saturday night's Game 1 of the American League Championship Series in Arlington, between the home Rangers and visiting Detroit Tigers. The game was delayed twice in the top of the fifth inning, the second coming with the Rangers holding a one-run lead in their 3-2 win over the Tigers. Play was initially halted at 9:42 p.m. ET and resumed after a delay of 41 minutes. But the rain got worse and the game was delayed again beginning at 10:36 p.m., resuming after a one-hour, nine-minute delay.
This is nothing new as far as the postseason is concerned -- particularly the next round of play, the World Series.
While rain delay statistics are more difficult to unearth regarding Championship Series play, Mother Nature's interruptions have taken place throughout World Series history and have had a major say in the outcome.
In fact, it was only three years ago that the 2008 Fall Classic made weather history when Game 5 -- what turned out to be the deciding game -- between the Phillies and Rays was suspended, marking the first time that had happened in a World Series. Game 5 in Philadelphia had to be stopped after the top of the sixth inning, and play didn't resume until two nights later.
But World Series schedules had been altered before. To wit:
In 1911, the Series was delayed six days because of weather, and Game 4 between the Philadelphia A's and New York Giants had to wait almost a week.
Game 6 of the 1962 Series between the Yankees and San Francisco Giants was delayed for three days. The Yankees eventually won in Game 7.
In 1975, the classic World Series battle between the Cincinnati Reds and Boston Red Sox was hit by bad weather. In fact, the famous Game 6, which Carlton Fisk ended with a 12th-inning homer, took place three days later than originally scheduled.
The Loma Prieta earthquake, a 7.1-magnitude temblor that struck the Bay Area in 1989, forced the World Series between the Giants and Oakland A's to take a 10-day break. The A's came back from the time off and swept the Giants.
There have been countless in-game delays, too, and one in particular comes to mind as the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers get set to begin the National League Championship Series on Sunday. That would be Game 6 of the 1982 World Series, when the Brewers were in the AL and facing the NL champion Redbirds.
Like Saturday's game deep in the soggy heart of Texas, that game, which was played at the old Busch Stadium in the shadow of the Gateway Arch, was hit by two rain delays that lasted more than 2 1/2 hours. But the game was finished that night, and the Cardinals won, 13-1, setting themselves up to take the Series in seven games the following night.
As far as the Tigers are concerned, enough inclement weather is enough. The Tigers lost starter and likely AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander's full-time services for Game 1 of the AL Division Series against the Yankees when the game was suspended, only to be completed two nights later. And on Saturday, he only got to go four innings. Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who suffered through a rainout in the 2006 World Series -- which his team lost to St. Louis -- admitted that Mother Nature can be a bit fickle this time of year.
"Well, I guess it's a little weird that Verlander was involved in both these rain situations," Leyland said. "And truthfully, we're going to go back when I get done [talking to the media] and figure out what we'll do now with the pitching."
Ah, yes. The pitching. It becomes a scramble when weather intervenes with best-laid October plans, so expect both clubs to get creative over the course of the next three-to-six games.
And let's not forget that there were some other interesting tidbits related to the weather that surfaced on Saturday night, too.
The first rain delay of 41 minutes in the top of the fifth inning was the first rain delay in Arlington since a two-hour, 58-minute delay on May 24 against the Chicago White Sox, and it was the first rain delay in a Rangers playoff game since a three-hour, 12-minute rain delay in Game 3 of the 1998 Division Series against the Yankees.
All in all, it was a situation that had to be endured by two 25-man rosters in the same manner, and it also had to be endured by fans. That fact was not lost on Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, who hit an early homer off Verlander on Saturday.
"They're the best fans," Cruz said. "Two rain delays, it's almost 12 [midnight]. It shows how good they are and how special they are.
"We always enjoy the fans the way they support us all year."