Rays ready for World Series to resume
Tampa Bay's bullpen wants ball to bring Fall Classic home
WILMINGTON, De. -- The Rays rolled with the punches once the announcement came early Tuesday afternoon that the continuation of Game 5 of the World Series would not happen until Wednesday due to weather conditions.
Rays reliever Dan Wheeler felt like Major League Baseball made a proactive decision by looking at the weather report and deciding not to play Tuesday night.
"Absolutely, I really do believe it was the right call," Wheeler said. "I was just kind of watching ESPN this morning and waiting to find out what's going on it. Judging from what I saw, it looked like the only way to go. For them to say it's not going to be baseball weather tonight, let's just make it for tomorrow.
"It's not going to be great weather tomorrow, but it's going to certainly be better than what we had to play in last night. Just watching on TV, [it] looks like there's some snow on the ground. That's no good. You can't imagine playing a regular-season game in that, so why play a World Series game in it?"
Grant Balfour got the final three outs for the Rays in the bottom of the fifth of Game 5, and right now the right-hander is scheduled to be on the mound when play resumes.
The decision "is fine with me," Balfour said. "I get to rest. It will only make it better for tomorrow, a little rest for the arm. And you also get some better weather. It's tough. But I'd rather be playing in better weather."
J.P. Howell smiled when asked about the decision not to play Tuesday night.
"Oh yeah, this is great," Howell said. "It's the right decision. We're getting through with it and it's fun. It's not frustrating or anything. It's kind of a unique moment, so we're kind of taking it in like everyone else.
"We're in survival mode right now. We'll take another day any time -- even if it's a rainout. [It] feels like a victory. I still get to put a uniform on tomorrow. We don't want the season to end. We wanted to finish [the game Monday night], but the conditions were pretty bad."
GAME 5 SUSPENSION
|Commissioner Selig cited rule 4.12(a)(6) in explaining the suspension of Game 5. According to the rule, enacted for the 2007 season, any official game halted with the score tied "shall become a suspended game that must be completed at a future date."
In this scenario, rule 4.12(c) for suspended games is enacted: "A suspended game shall be resumed at the exact point of suspension of the original game. The completion of a suspended game is a continuation of the original game. The lineup and batting order of both teams shall be exactly the same as the lineup and batting order at the moment of suspension, subject to the rules governing substitution. Any player may be replaced by a player who had not been in the game prior to the suspension. No player removed before the suspension may be returned to the lineup."
Prior to 1980, a game called due to inclement weather would have reverted back to the beginning of the inning, with the Phillies leading, 2-1, since Philadelphia did not bat in the bottom of the inning. In 1980, the "reverting back" was discontinued and the game was henceforth declared a suspended game. Rule 4.12(a)(6) was added after the 2006 season so that any game suspended after becoming official would be declared a suspended game. Therefore, Game 5 will resume with the score tied at 2.
The Rays trail the series, 3-1, but the mood seemed to reflect otherwise. The Phillies have now burned their top starter in Cole Hamels, so Howell was asked if the case could be made that the Rays now have the advantage.
"[It] could be, [but the] case could be made they do, too," Howell said. "So I don't know. I try not to look at the advantage. We've got to go out and take this thing. And the Phillies aren't bummed out right now. You've just got to keep this thing going. That's the key, not getting caught up in this miracle magic. That's for me. This is straight up baseball. The better person will win."
Rookie David Price said he thought the Rays grabbed the momentum in Game 5, particularly now that sluggers Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria appear to have broken out of a World Series-long slump.
"Now we've got Carlos and Evan swinging the bats now, that's a good start," Price said. "Carlos had two hits yesterday. That's the anchor of our offense. Usually when those guys are hitting, the other guys follow."
Wheeler said the situation is about as "bizarre as it gets" in that the Rays have three more at-bats and the Phillies have four in the continuation of Game 5, and Rays manager Joe Maddon has said the bullpen will pitch the available innings.
"I haven't even really been able to comprehend it yet," Wheeler said. "I can't wait to get ready until the fifth inning like I normally do. I have to stretch right away. So it's going to be kind of weird. We definitely understand what's at stake. And we'll have to be ready to go from pitch one."
While Balfour is scheduled to start, Hamels is the Phillies' first scheduled hitter, which means the Rays will likely be looking at a pinch-hitter. Some speculation has suggested that Price will be the guy to take the ball once the game gets under way.
"Who knows how it's going to work out," Balfour said. "I guess looking at it, I'm probably hitting fifth, and hopefully for us we do need a pinch-hitter and we're putting up a bunch of runs. You just never know what's going to happen."
Price said he's up to the challenge.
"I want the ball," Price said. "Our entire bullpen wants the ball right now [to] give us a chance to win the game and get it back to Tropicana Field. So that's something we want to do. Our whole bullpen is hungry for the ball right now."
No matter what happens Wednesday night, Game 5 will bring one of the more unusual storylines in World Series history.
"It hasn't been a conventional World Series," Price said. "It kind of just goes along with our season a little more. It's kind of what we've been dealing with all year. This hasn't been a perfect World Series. You kind of expect some bumps in the road, and that's what we're getting."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.